Restless Leg Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments
Have you noticed an uncontrollable urge to move your legs while lying in bed or after sitting for an extended period of time? You might have restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Restless legs can cause uncomfortable symptoms. They can also indicate other health issues. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help you get relief and support your long-term health.
What Is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a common condition that causes unpleasant, overpowering sensations in the legs that you can only ease with movement.
RLS affects as many as one in ten adults in the United States. Some people only experience restless leg symptoms from time to time. For others, it can be a sign of an underlying health issue.
In fact, in many cases, RLS is a symptom of vein disease, which is the root cause of varicose veins.
Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms
RLS is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. You might also notice tingling, throbbing, or itching in your legs or general discomfort.
Symptoms usually begin or worsen at night when you’re trying to fall asleep. They can also occur when you’re inactive for hours, such as during a plane flight or while sitting at a desk working.
This restlessness and twitching of the legs, and sometimes other limbs, makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest. If restless leg syndrome is stopping you from sleeping through the night or making it difficult to fall asleep, you might feel tired, irritable, or moody during the day.
Poor sleep quality can also have long-term effects on your health, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, weakened immunity, and diabetes.
That’s why finding out what might be contributing to your symptoms and getting treatment is so important.
Restless Leg Syndrome Causes
There are several potential causes of restless leg syndrome, including iron deficiency, caffeine consumption, and kidney disease.
It’s also been found that people with restless leg syndrome tend to also have varicose veins.
Varicose veins and spider veins are caused by venous insufficiency, which occurs when valves in your veins don’t work properly. With damaged valves, your body doesn’t pump blood upward toward the heart as efficiently as it should, causing it to pool in the veins of the lower legs.
This backflow of blood can put pressure on the veins, causing them to swell and leading to visible and swollen veins. It can also impact nearby nerves, leading to feelings of pins and needles in the legs and restlessness when sitting or lying down for long periods.
If you have restless leg syndrome and varicose veins, it’s possible your RLS symptoms are caused by venous insufficiency.
Restless Leg Syndrome and Varicose Veins
Varicose veins and restless leg syndrome both primarily affect the legs. Also, some of the symptoms overlap. For example, people with varicose veins might have painful, throbbing legs. The same goes for those with RLS.
While there isn’t always a clear cause of RLS, medical researchers have found a connection between varicose veins and restless leg syndrome. Doctors are also finding that treating venous insufficiency can help to reduce or resolve restless leg symptoms.
One study published in 2023 found that 85 percent of patients reporting RLS symptoms also had compromised vein health. After being treated for vein disease with ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, a non-surgical treatment for varicose veins, 100 percent of patients reported relief from RLS symptoms.
Another study from 2019 revealed similar results. This time, the patients were treated with ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy or Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA). After treatment, 83 percent noticed fewer symptoms.
If you have varicose veins and restless leg syndrome, treating your vein issues might help to relieve your symptoms while improving your vein health and the quality of your sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome Treatments
There’s no cure for restless leg syndrome. However, there are treatments that can reduce your symptoms dramatically.
The best treatment for RLS depends on the cause. So, if you have restless legs because of an iron deficiency, your doctor might recommend iron supplements or adding iron-rich foods to your diet.
If lifestyle habits, such as inactivity or chronic caffeine consumption, are contributing to your RLS symptoms, you may benefit from regular exercise and limiting your caffeine consumption.
For those who have RLS and varicose veins, treating the vein disease may help you get relief.
Here are some of the symptoms that might indicate venous insufficiency is behind your restless legs:
- Leg swelling
- Leg heaviness
- Aching or throbbing
- Family history of varicose veins or RLS
If you’re experiencing symptoms of both varicose veins and restless leg syndrome, talk to a vein specialist to find out if vein disease could be related to your symptoms.
Find Relief for Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms and Varicose Veins
RLS isn’t just a nuisance. It can impact everything from your sleep quality to your long-term well-being. Fortunately, many people with RLS can find relief from the quick, office-based treatments we offer at USA Vein Clinics.
The experienced vein specialists at USA Vein Clinics provide FDA-approved treatments for vein disease at over 160 locations nationwide. Our minimally invasive treatments are performed as outpatient procedures, so you can return to light activities immediately afterward.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a specialist at one of our IAC-accredited facilities. We offer both in-office and telemedicine appointments.
Our doctors can diagnose and treat any existing vein issues, so you can finally get relief. Call (888) 768-3467 or schedule online.