According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, up to 10 percent of people in the US are suffering from restless leg syndrome. The symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS) are difficult to ignore. Just as you’re about to drift off to sleep, you feel an intense urge to move your legs. Some people describe feeling creeping sensations, throbbing or aching in their legs. Often, getting up and moving eases the discomfort. If you are experiencing the symptoms of RLS, the good news is there are several ways to treat and cope with the condition.
A few medications have been shown to help ease the symptoms associated with RLS. Some are FDA-approved for treating the syndrome, others are prescribed “off label” still provide some benefit. Two medications that have FDA approval for treating RLS are rotigotine and pramipexole. Both medicines work by increasing dopamine levels in a person’s brain, which helps to reduce movements and motion in the legs. Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can be prescribed to reduce movements. Additionally, some patients are able to get relief or at least a better night’s sleep when they are prescribed opioids or muscle relaxants.
Medications don’t help everyone with RLS. Additionally, some people might be hesitant to take potentially habit-forming drugs. For some people, changing a sleep routine or working to improve sleep hygiene can help ease symptoms. That can mean going to bed and getting up at the same time every night and day. It can also mean making sure the bedroom or sleeping area is comfortable, quite, dark and cool.
Many patients with RLS also have some sort of vein problem, such as varicose veins. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 98 percent of patients who participated in a study experienced relief of their RLS symptoms after they received sclerotherapy to treat their varicose veins. Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that involves injecting the veins with a special solution. The solution causes the veins to collapse and disappear. Often, varicose veins are associated with RLS. Treating them can help treat the RLS.
Occasionally, other conditions or certain medications can make RLS worse. For example, people with low iron levels often experience the syndrome. If your doctor finds that your iron levels are low, he may recommend taking a supplement or finding ways to increase the iron in your diet.
The Relaxis pad is a medical device approved by the FDA for helping people with RLS. The pad is made out of foam and available in a range of sizes. When used, it vibrates for 30 minutes to help ease the sensations associated with RLS.
If you have varicose veins and RLS, Dr. Chris Pittman at Vein 911 can help. He offers ultrasound guided sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins and potentially ease RLS symptoms. Contact Vein 911 today to schedule a consultation.