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Tingling Legs: Do I Have Restless Leg Syndrome?

There aren’t many medical conditions named more aptly than restless leg syndrome (RLS), since the name completely describes what you experience. Tingles, twitches, and other sensations make it irresistible to move your legs, typically as you get tired. When you do move your legs, the relief is only momentary, then sensations start anew. It’s sometimes not easy for patients to describe precisely what they feel, except that their legs are “restless.” 

Classed loosely as a sleep disorder primarily because the symptoms seem worse at night or when you’re tired, restless leg syndrome isn’t well understood and it’s not known why some people experience it while others don’t. Perhaps another quirk of the condition is that practices like Hamilton Vascular specialize in helping patients with restless leg syndrome, medically referred to as Willis-Ekbom disease, though there’s little connection between this and other vascular or venous conditions or diseases. 

Causes behind restless leg syndrome

There is no known cause of RLS. Several factors are thought to contribute,including genetics.If the condition starts before age 40, it probably runs in your family. Some research and evidence suggest that the condition is related to an imbalance in dopamine, a chemical in your brain that plays a role in controlling muscle movement. 

RLS may also appear or get worse during pregnancy, usually in the last trimester, though it’s likely symptoms will disappear after delivery. Other risk factors for RLS include neuropathy (nerve damage), spinal conditions, iron deficiency, and kidney failure. 

There is no test for RLS, so your Hamilton Vascular caregiver must diagnose the condition based on five criteria:

Treating restless leg syndrome

Treatments for RLS include several options and strategies, including lifestyle changes and medication. Every patient responds differently, so it may take some trial and error with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you.

Lifestyle modifications that may help include avoiding or decreasing use of alcohol or tobacco, keeping a regular sleeping pattern, moderate exercise, leg massages, and warm baths. If a blood test shows you have low iron, iron supplements may decrease your symptoms as well.

Prescription medications that can help relieve RLS include medicine that increases dopamine in the brain, as well as drugs that affect calcium channels. Opioids such as oxycodone can relieve symptoms, but they can also be addicting if used in high doses. Benzodiazepines can help you sleep better, but don’t necessarily relieve RLS, and they can cause daytime drowsiness — they are a last resort if other treatments don’t work.

Treatment for RLS isn’t always necessary. While annoying, the condition may only be occasional, and it’s not usually a problem until it starts to interfere with your sleep. RLS does progress as you get older, so though it may not be an issue now, it could be worse in a few years. 

When it’s time to treat your case of RLS, call the most convenient office of Hamilton Vascular to schedule an exam and consultation. That tingling restlessness need not keep you up anymore.

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