If you are reading this chances are you are concerned that you or a loved one have restless legs syndrome (RLS). You’re not alone. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a chronic condition. Because the sensations that accompany RLS are unusual, patients may have a hard time describing them. Often words like uncomfortable, creeping, crawling, itching, pulling, and jumping are used to describe the feelings inside the leg. The urge to move is irresistible. The symptoms begin or worsen during periods of rest, inactivity or at night. Prolonged standing, sitting, traveling by plane, train or car can all trigger symptoms. RLS can lead to insomnia among other medical conditions.
The goal in treating RLS is to control the unpleasant symptoms, thereby reducing sleep disturbances, preventing daytime fatigue and improving patients' daily activities. Many patients try walking, jogging, stretching, massaging the legs or hot/cold baths to reduce or relieve symptoms. Wearing knee high compression hose, drinking tonic water, taking horse chestnut seed extract or placing a bar of soap under the sheets have all been tried and some patients swear by these remedies.
A study published in the journal, Phlebology, 2008, conducted at the Vein Center of North Texas showed a relationship of varicose vein disease and RLS. Over 85% of the patients treated with venous closure or sclerotherapy (closing of veins by injections) enjoyed a decrease in their RLS symptoms. Fifty-three percent of the treated patients noted symptoms were largely alleviated and 31% had complete relief of RLS symptoms. Several other studies showed that RLS is common in patients with venous disease, including varicose and spider veins.
So, Do You have restless legs syndrome (RLS)? Ask yourself how many of the questions below are true for you?
- When you sit or lie down, do you have a strong desire to move your legs?
- Does your desire to move your legs feel impossible to resist?
- Have you ever used the words unpleasant, creepy, crawly, itching, pulling, or tugging to describe your symptoms to others?
- Does your desire to move often occur when you are resting or sitting still?
- Does moving your legs make you feel better?
- Do you complain of these symptoms more at night?
- Do you keep your bed partner awake with the jerking movements of your legs?
- Do your ever have involuntary leg movements while you are awake?
- Are you tired or unable to concentrate during the day?
- Do any of your family members have similar complaints?
Although millions of Americans may suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome, many people have never heard of it or don't realize it's a real medical condition. To share information about Restless Legs Syndrome with family, friends, and co-workers, go to RLS.org for more information. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of RLS described above, call your doctor.