Have you ever had sensations in your legs that made you feel like you just had to move them?
It’s possible you are suffering from restless leg syndrome (RLS), otherwise known as Willis-Ekbom Disease.
This disorder can disrupt sleep and cause you to be exhausted and groggy during daylight hours. It can affect your concentration, job or school performance, personal relationships, memory, and mood.
Estimates show that up to 10% of people in the U.S. are suffering with RLS, with women more likely than men to develop it. While it can happen at any age, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the worst cases are seen among the middle-aged population.
Four Major Signs of Restless Leg Syndrome
How do you know if you have restless leg syndrome?
There are various signs and symptoms of restless leg syndrome that can help you decide whether or not you’re suffering from this condition.
1. Urge to Move/Sensation
RLS causes discomfort in your lower limbs accompanied by an irresistible urge to move. The classic RLS leg sensations have been defined as pulling, itching, creeping, throbbing, and crawling, although some people — particularly children — find it hard to put into words.
The sensations can be uncomfortable or irritating to downright painful.
Sometimes the arms are affected, and in rare cases, the chest and head may be involved as well, although most of the symptoms are confined to the legs.
Normally, both sides of the body are affected, but symptoms can show up on only one side and may also switch sides.
Symptoms tend to decrease with movement and worsen when the sufferer is trying to be still.
2. Symptoms Worsen at Night
Usually, people with RLS experience a symptom-free period early in the day, with symptom onset occurring late afternoon to evening time.
Night-time symptoms can get worse if sleep is disrupted over a period of time or after a period of stress.
3. Inability to Sleep Well and Sleepiness During the Day
Because RLS sufferers feel the need to be constantly in motion, they can find it very hard to get restful sleep.
This causes sleeplessness or poor-quality sleep, which can translate into daytime drowsiness, lack of concentration, irritability, moodiness, and problems at work and with personal relationships.
4. Spontaneous Jerking or Twitching of Limbs
Around 90 percent of people with RLS experience a condition called periodic limb movement of sleep (PLMS)
With PLMS, legs and arms can twitch or jerk during sleep, typically a few times every minute. This can continue throughout the night or ease off after a short period of time.
Not everyone with PLMS has RLS, even though many RLS sufferers also experience PLMS.
What to Do When You Have Restless Legs
The first thing you should do when you think you’re having signs of restless leg syndrome is to seek a medical evaluation.
A doctor will take a look at your medical history to make sure there isn’t another medical or psychological reason for your symptoms. Then, he or she will evaluate your case according to four criteria, specifically dealing with pain and urge to move the legs that:
- Are accompanied by unpleasant or abnormal sensations
- Begins or worsens during rest
- Can be partially or totally relieved by movement
- Begins or worsens in the evening
He may check your legs for signs of varicosity and other symptoms of venous insufficiency, which can contribute to RLS. He may use a combination of a physical exam coupled with a painless, non-invasive ultrasound scan to check the condition of your veins.
You may be asked to keep a symptom diary to determine the frequency, severity, and onset of symptoms over time.
Finally, lab tests for conditions that contribute to RLS, such as kidney disease, low iron levels, and other neurological disorders may be ordered to give a comprehensive understanding of your overall health and possible contributing factors.
If your doctor determines you are suffering from RLS, these tests and standards will give him a clearer understanding of your individual case when recommending a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms.
Treatment Options for Restless Leg Syndrome
Everyone wants to know how to stop restless leg syndrome immediately, but this is usually not possible. RLS is considered a lifelong disorder, but much can be done to minimize its impact on your daily life.
Your doctor will determine if there’s an underlying medical condition that’s causing or worsening your symptoms and begin with treating that.
Although there are some drugs that can treat associated conditions, there is not a single drug that’s useful for all cases.
You and your doctor will need to work together to find the right combination of drugs and therapy to manage your individual case. In addition, there will need to be ongoing case management as symptoms wax or wane and if drugs become ineffective over time.
Options for treatment of RLS include the following:
One of the simplest and least invasive ways to handle mild to moderate RLS symptoms is to make changes to your lifestyle.
You should avoid or decrease the use of stimulants like tobacco and alcohol and develop a moderate exercise program that includes aerobic exercise and stretching.
In addition, regular leg massages, warms baths, and the use of ice or heat on the legs before bed can go a long way toward minimizing symptoms.
Several medical devices have recently received clearance by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for people experiencing RLS symptoms. These include a foot wrap that applies pressure to the underside of the foot and a vibrating pad that applies sensation to the back of the legs.
Endovenous Laser Therapy
Endovenous laser therapy, sometimes also know as ablation, is often used to relieve RLS symptoms. Studies show that superficial venous insufficiency (SVI) is often a cause of tired, achy, restless legs.
Venous insufficiency occurs when the blood is not flowing correctly through the veins in the legs, whether due to varicosity or other factors.
A procedure called endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) has been shown to relieve symptoms in people with moderate to severe RLS that also have venous insufficiency.
EVLT is performed while you’re awake and under a local anesthetic.
The doctor will map the vein to be treated using an ultrasound device, and, using a cannula to carry the endovenous laser to the correct area, the doctor will proceed to close the vein in sections.
You’ll be up and walking right after the procedure. Aftercare will consist of wearing compression stockings as your doctor directs and slow walking at intervals, along with whatever else your doctor recommends.
Some people with RLS present with low levels of ferritin and transferrin saturation in their blood, as validated by a lab test.
If this is you, you can take over-the-counter iron supplements to see if that helps. If you experience nausea with the supplements, try switching brands or taking the pills with a bit of food.
If your iron levels still don’t return to normal after supplementation, you may be one of the many people who may need supplementation through an IV drip at your doctor’s office for maximum absorption.
Prognosis for People with Signs and Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
If you have RLS and also think you might suffer from venous insufficiency, relief can be just an appointment away.
Vein specialists at our USA Vein Clinics will get to the bottom of your vein issue and provide a simple, easy way to relieve the signs of RLS related to damaged veins.
We offer endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) as an in-office procedure. It normally takes around an hour and most people recover just a few hours later.
EVLT is a ground-breaking procedure that treats one of the causes of RLS — venous insufficiency — in a minimally-invasive manner.
Your doctor can determine if the procedure is right for you with a simple exam and a non-invasive ultrasound of your leg. This ultrasound will help him “map” your veins, locating problem areas to be corrected with the endovenous laser.
The procedure is performed under local anesthetic, so you’ll be awake throughout.
Your doctor will relocate the trouble spots using ultrasonography, then, using a very small incision, insert a cannula into the
appropriate vein. The endovenous laser will be guided through the cannula to seal the problem vein and “close” it.
Over time, this vein will be reabsorbed by your body, and other healthy veins will take over the job of providing circulation.
Best of all, you’ll be able to walk out of the office right after the procedure, with practically no down-time.
Why suffer when you can manage your RLS symptoms with a drug-free, safe and effective solution?
With a team of highly-skilled physicians and a high success rate, you can take peace of mind that your treatment is in the best possible hands. So why not call us today to book your first consultation? Dial 888-768-3467 to speak to our friendly, dedicated team or feel free to schedule an appointment via our convenient online scheduler located on our website: https://www.usaveinclinics.com/schedule-consultation/
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