Restless Leg Syndrome: Causes & Treatments

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Night scene of car lights winding past the Arc de Triomphe, representing restless leg syndrome.

Do you find it difficult to sit or lie still for even a small amount of time? Well, you are certainly not alone in that feeling. RLS, or Restless Leg Syndrome, in a condition that came make it incredibly difficult for a person to sit or lie still for extended periods. While not dangerous, it can affect the quality of a person’s life as it will keep them awake at night and lead to fatigue during the day.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome

According to the RLS Foundation, RLS is a very common neurological disorder. It affects around 7 to 10 percent of the population in the United States and is also fairly common in pregnant women. Essentially, RLS is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move, usually the legs, but it can also appear in other parts of the body. It is not really curable unless a woman gets it while pregnant, but there are many effective treatments available to make living with RLS easier.

Identifying RLS

Restless Leg Syndrome can be pretty easy to self-diagnosis, but it is is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any specific treatments. When trying to determine if you are suffering from RLS, consider how you feel when you are sitting down or lying.

You may get a creeping, achy or prickling sensation in your legs that only gets relieved when you get up and move, you are probably suffering from RLS. This constant need to move will make it difficult to sleep at night and will lead to you being fatigued during the day.

In many cases, these symptoms will fluctuate in severity and even disappear for a period of time before returning.

What Causes RLS

A US News and World Report article listed a number of potential causes of RLS, the first and foremost being that it is usually hereditary. When you get RLS as a family trait it is usually referred to as Primary RLS.

But, this is not the only possible cause for the condition. It can also be a result of certain medications for depression, colds, allergies, and even nausea. The presence of other health conditions can also cause RLS; kidney or heart disease, high blood pressure, anemia, and low iron levels can all lead to RLS.

Other factors that could cause RLS to include a lack of exercise, excess caffeine intake, smoking, drinking, and even anxiety. This is a big reason to go see your doctor, as they will be better able to help you determine the cause of your specific case of RLS and the best treatment.

Feeling a Little Restless? Speak to a specialist and get all the info you need on RLS.

How to Treat Your RLS


While there is no real cure for RLS, there are a number of ways to treat. WebMD lists a number of tips to make living with RLS easier.

The biggest thing that you can do to ease your RLS symptoms would be to move more. Take a walk during your lunch breaks or get up every so often just to stretch your legs and move a little bit while at work.  Regular exercise is another way to use movement to help minimize symptoms. Stretching in the mornings and evenings can also make a big difference.

 For those times where you cannot really move, such as when watching TV or on a conference call, then try massaging your legs. While maybe not as effective as moving around would be, it will still help a lot.

 For severe cases, there are a number of medications that can be used to treat RLS, even though they are meant for other things. This includes drugs that increase dopamine in the brain, drugs that affect calcium channels, opioids, and muscle relaxants or sleeping medications could help as a treatment option. Your doctor can talk you through these options should it get to that point.

“7 to 10 percent of the population in the United States is affected by Restless Leg Syndrome.”

Preventative Treatments for RLS

While in some cases, RLS is hereditary, there are still some preventative measures a person can take in hopes of not developing the condition. As with treating it, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to get more exercise. By allowing excess energy out of your body, there is less concern about RLS developing.

Other things that you can do is maintain your stress levels. Stress can cause a person to feel extremely restless, so by keeping calm and practicing breathing or meditation techniques,  you avoid RLS as well.

If you are a smoker, consider quitting, as it can affect the onset and severity of RLS. Drinking less alcohol is another preventative measure that you can take as is drinking less caffeine. Both have the ability to not only worsen RLS but can possibly create it as well if taken in excess. In some cases, avoiding certain medications when possible can also help as some are known to cause RLS symptoms.

These may seem like small things, but by managing or altogether avoiding these triggers, you can keep yourself from developing RLS. It may seem difficult, but it is much better than suffering from the condition in the long run.

While RLS is not a serious threat, the fatigue it could lead to from lack of sleep can affect your quality of life. Do not leave your RLS untreated, hoping it will go away and do not try to hide it. Millions of people suffer from it, and if you try talking to someone, you may learn a new technique to try and treat your RLS symptoms better.

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