Know Your Treatment Options for Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a condition in which your legs feel extremely uncomfortable, typically in the evenings while you're sitting or lying down.  It makes you feel like getting up and moving around and when you do, the unpleasant feeling of restless legs syndrome temporarily goes away.  Restless legs syndrome can begin at any age and generally worsens as you age.  Restless legs syndrome can disrupt sleep, leading to daytime drowsiness, and make traveling difficult.

In many cases, no known cause for restless legs syndrome.  But the condition can accompany other conditions like peripheral neuropathy, iron deficiency, or kidney failure.  

Treatments options for restless leg syndrome

Sometimes, treating an underlying condition, such as iron deficiency or peripheral neuropathy, greatly relieves symptoms of restless leg syndrome.  If you have restless leg syndrome without any associated condition, treatment focuses on lifestyle changes, and, if those aren't effective, medications.

Several prescription medications, most of which were developed to treat other diseases, are available to reduce the restlessness in your legs:

1.       Medications for Parkinson's disease reduce the amount of motion in your legs by affecting the level of the chemical messenger dopamine in your brain

2.       Medications for epilepsy

3.       Opioids can relieve mild to severe symptoms, but they may be addicting if used in high doses

4.       Muscle relaxants and sleep medications can help you sleep better at night

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) when symptoms begin may relieve the twitching and the sensations.  Similarly the following home remedies can be helpful in treating restless leg syndrome:

·         Soaking in a warm bath and massaging your legs can relax your muscles

·         Apply warm or cool packs may lessen the sensations in your limbs

·         Try relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga

·         Establish good sleep habits – fatigue tends to worsen symptoms of RLS, so it's important that you practice good sleep hygiene

·         Getting moderate, regular exercise may relieve symptoms of RLS, but overdoing it at the gym or working out too late in the day may intensify symptoms

·         Sometimes cutting back on caffeine may help restless legs

·         Cut back on alcohol and tobacco 

Because restless legs syndrome is sometimes due to an underlying nutritional deficiency, taking supplements to correct the deficiency may improve your symptoms.  Your doctor can order blood tests to pinpoint nutritional deficiencies and give you a good sense of which supplements may help.  Your doctor can also tell you whether certain dietary supplements may interfere with the way your prescription medications work or may pose health risks for you.  If blood tests show that you are deficient in any of the following nutrients, your doctor may recommend taking dietary supplements as part of your treatment plan.