Restless legs syndrome is an unpleasant condition that affects people of all ages. Approximately 57% of elderly people and 5 – 15% of the general population experience restless legs syndrome. Although the symptoms are difficult for patients to describe, it is characterized by an urge to move the legs usually due to an unpleasant sensation between the knee and ankle. Many patients report a decrease in symptoms with movement, stretching, rubbing or hot water.
Symptoms of Restless Legs
– An urge to move the legs, usually accompanied or caused by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs (sometimes the urge to move is present without the uncomfortable sensations and sometimes the arms or other body parts are involved in addition to the legs).
– The urge to move or unpleasant sensations begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity such as lying or sitting.
– The urge to move or unpleasant sensations are partially or totally relieved by movement such as walking or stretching, at least as long as the activity continues.
– The urge to move or unpleasant sensations are worse in the evening or night than during the day or only occur in the evening or night (when symptoms are very severe, the worsening at night may not be noticeable but must have been previously present).
Types of Restless Legs
There are two types of Restless Legs Syndrome; Primary Restless Legs Syndrome and Secondary Restless Legs Syndrome. In 40 – 60% of Primary Restless Legs Syndrome cases, there is a familial history. Secondary Restless Legs Syndrome is a result of a different health condition. Some of these include iron deficiency, pregnancy, renal disease, neuropathy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s.
Diagnosing Restless Leg Syndrome
As with any condition, the first step in effective management for Restless Legs Syndrome is confirming the diagnosis. Several conditions mimic Restless Legs Syndrome, so it is important to consult with a practitioner who is qualified to diagnose this condition (like your chiropractor!). Medical referral is sometimes warranted to rule out other causes (Secondary Restless Legs Syndrome). For example, if an iron deficiency is detected through blood analysis iron supplementation may be helpful. In fact, iron supplementation has been shown in the literature to have a positive result on Restless Legs Syndrome in those people with an iron deficiency. Magnesium deficiency has also been shown to be linked to Restless Legs Syndrome. Again, supplementation may be helpful in these cases.
Treatment for Restless Legs
There are various pharmacological options for treating the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome. According to the literature, dopamine agonists have been shown to provide the best results. It is important to realize that this treatment approach does not aim to eliminate the condition. Pharmacological intervention is aimed at reducing symptoms. Since Restless Legs Syndrome is usually progressive, it would be wise to delay this treatment option until necessary (to avoid building a tolerance). Decreasing alcohol and caffeine intake, getting regular exercise and practicing good sleep hygiene are all recommended for Restless Legs Syndrome. Our clinic has found the combination of Graston Technique and daytime use of compression socks to be a great way to combat Restless Legs. If you think you may have Restless Legs Syndrome, give us a call. We can assist you in confirming the diagnosis and finding the best way to reduce your symptoms of Restless Legs.
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