Restless legs syndrome is a neurological disorder characterised by an irresistible urge to move the legs to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations.
Restless legs syndrome effects approximately 1 in 10 people, with females being twice as likely to experience symptoms.
The sensations tend to occur when resting, sitting or lying, which can interfere with sleep. Some people have little or no sensations, yet still have a strong urge to move or experience uncontrollable night jerks in the legs.
Movement usually brings immediate partial or temporary relief. Individuals with restless legs syndrome can sometimes experience weeks or months before symptoms reappear however, generally symptoms become worse over time.
If left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue, from sleep deprivation effecting activities of daily living.
Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome:
- Unknown cause.
- Iron deficiency.
- Kidney failure.
- Varicose veins.
- Folate deficiency and/or magnesium deficiency.
- Low blood sugar levels.
- Thyroid disease.
- Pregnancy (especially in the last trimester).
- Sleep apnea.
- Peripheral neuropathy.
- Certain auto immune diseases (I.E Celiac disease, Rheumatoid arthritis).
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Certain medications (antiemetics, antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants).
- Surgery of the lower limb.
Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome:
- Severity can range from mild to severe feelings of discomfort, itchy, pins and needles, creepy crawly sensations and/or numbness.
- An urge to move the limbs with or without sensations.
- Symptoms are generally worse in the evenings and better in the morning.
- Sleep disturbance.
- Improvement with activity.
- Worse at rest (i.e. sitting for a long period of time).
Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome:
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
- Maintaining a schedule of relaxation.
- Avoiding heavy meals before bed.
- Hot/cold packs.
- Regular exercise and stretching.
- Treating any underlying causes (i.e. anemia, iron deficiency, renal failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s or peripheral nerve damage).
- Medication (i.e. dopamine agonists, gabapentin enacarbil, opioids).
At Well Heeled Podiatry we will undertake a thorough lower limb assessment and rule out any other reasons you may be experiencing lower limb discomfort.