Do You Have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

by | May 8, 2020 | Blog, Venous Disease | 0 comments

Key RLS Symptoms

Do you have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Do you feel the constant urge to move your legs? Do you feel quite uncomfortable, never quite able to find the right way to sit or lay down? If so, you may be experiencing Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also knowns as Willis-Ekbom Disease.

RLS can be very uncomfortable and patients with this syndrome can often have trouble with sitting, sleeping, or traveling. You might also feel unusual sensations such as a crawling, tingling, or pulling sensation in your legs. This is why patients have the constant urge to move, because it temporarily relieves these symptoms.

More than 9-in-10 individuals who have a first-degree relative with RLS have it themselves. Such patients usually develop RLS symptoms earlier in life, prior to the turning 45, than those without a close relative with the condition.

Symptoms of RLS

Symptoms of RLS include:
  • Sensations that begin after lying down or sitting for an extended period of time such as after being in a car, airplane, or theatre.
  • A lessening of the symptoms with movement, like stretching, pacing, or walking
  • A worsening of the symptoms during the evening or at night
  • Moving or twitching of the legs (or arms) during the night as you sleep to relieve discomfort
RLS is often categorized as an abnormal and unpleasant sensation in your legs or feet.

Those suffering with Restless Leg Syndrome will describe the sensations in terms of:

  • Itching
  • Pulling
  • Throbbing
  • Crawling
  • Electric
  • Creeping
  • Aching

Those experiencing moderate RLS symptoms may only notice them once or twice a week, while severe RLS symptoms can mean multiple nights each week with twitching legs, resulting in a considerable disruption in sleep and impaired daytime function.

It is possible to experience a remission in terms of a spontaneous improvement for weeks or months in conditions before the symptoms flare up again. Overall, however, the RLS symptoms will grow increasingly severe with time.

Risk Factors for RLS

Even children can suffer from RLS. While it isn’t related directly to a single underlying medical condition, RLS can accompany other conditions.

These include:
Kidney failure: those with kidney failure may also be suffering from iron deficiency, usually with anemia. When your kidneys fail to work properly, the iron stores in your blood can decrease which may cause or exacerbate RLS.

Peripheral neuropathy: this condition causes damage to the nerves in your hands and feet and is sometimes caused by chronic diseases including alcoholism and diabetes.

Iron deficiency: whether you have anemia or not, iron deficiency can cause RLS or make it worse. Those with a history of bleeding from your stomach and bowels, or who experience heavy menstrual periods, or repeatedly donate blood, you may be iron deficient.

Spinal cord conditions: if you have lesions on the spinal cord due to damage or an injury. Applications of anesthesia to your spinal cord, such as a spinal block, can increase the risk of developing RLS.

While RLS symptoms usually affect both sides of most people, some may only experience it on one side, depending on the severity of their RLS. In more mild cases, the symptoms may come and go, while in other more severe cases, the symptoms are more frequent.

Causes of RLS & Treatments

Did you know that one of the often overlooked causes of RLS is venous insufficiency, or in other words, vein disease? This is because damaged veins make the legs feel achy, cramped, and tired. If you are diagnosed with venous disease and also have restless legs, getting treatment can often relieve most RLS symptoms for the long-term.

There are a number of treatments available for your vein disease that will ultimately aid in the relief of your RLS symptoms. Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure using a thin catheter inserted directly into the vein.

Radiofrequency Ablation is performed in the office under local anesthesia, and usually takes less than 45 minutes to complete. It involves little to no pain, and most patients are back to normal activities immediately following the procedure.

Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy is another treatment during which deeper veins that are not visible on the surface may be treated by using duplex ultrasound together with sclerotherapy. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is particularly helpful in treating larger, non-saphenous varicose veins.

Deal with Your RLS Symptoms Today with Virginia Vein Care

While RLS symptoms don’t generally lead to other conditions, these symptoms can be incapacitating to many who find themselves unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. This can result in a significant detriment in terms of quality of life which can lead to insomnia and depression.

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options and whether your RLS is a cause of venous insufficiency, schedule your initial office consultation or FREE online screening with a board certified physician at Virginia Vein Care!