Restless Leg Syndrome is a conditions that lately has come to my Chiropractic office in groups. Lately, I have been seeing a number of patients with Restless Leg syndrome and actually have been helping some of them. Many people wonder exactly what is going on and I hope I can clear up some confusion.
How do you know you have Restless Leg Syndrome? You work hard. You get in your bed looking forward to a relaxing night sleep when suddenly you get the most irresistible urge to move. From that moment on, you spend the rest of the night rubbing your legs, walking around the room trying anything that will let you get to sleep. And before you know it, it is morning. Does this sound familiar? Most likely it is a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS for short. Restless Leg Syndrome is described as a sleep disorder in which a person experiences vague, unpleasant, seldom painful, but always very annoying, sensation in the legs such as creeping, crawling and tingling. These sensations occur anywhere from the thigh to the ankle. One or both legs may be affected and k for a small percentage, the sensations may also be experienced in the arms. The symptoms usually occur when the person lies down or sits for prolonged period of time, such as at a desk riding in a car or watching a movie.
My Chiropractic patients with Restless Leg Syndrome describe an irresistible urge to move the legs when the sensations occur. I have one patient who has said she travels around the entire beg all night. Walking, rubbing or massaging the legs, or doing knee bends can bring relief, at least briefly.
RLS symptoms are often worse during periods of relaxation and decreased activity. This coincides with patient reports that they are bothered much more in the evening and during the nigh hours than during the morning hours. The symptoms make it difficult to relax and fall asleep and this produces a problem of sleep deprivation. Rest may not come until the end of the night or during the early morning hours, resulting in fatigue during the day. The net result is that RLS interfered with work, social life and recreational activities.
The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown but there are several factors common to patients with the symptoms. Pregnancy can exacerbate symptoms especially in the last months. The symptoms usually disappear after delivery. Low iron levels or anemia can also play a role. While the symptoms may improve once the iron level or anemia is corrected, this is actually a manifestation of a larger nutritional problem. Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral neuropath may also be associated.
There is no lab test that can diagnose this condition. It is mainly diagnosed by the symptoms. Treatment currently involves medications and muscle relaxants to varying degrees of success. Certain medications can aggravate symptoms especially anti-nausea drugs, anti-psychotics and some cold and allergy medications. Discussing these drugs with your primary doctor and/or pharmacist will help address these interactions. As a chiropractor I see the need for addressing pelvic and low back instability and structural problems as well as treating the feet ankles, legs, knees and hips. Exercise is very important to strengthen the pelvis, lumbo-sacral area and take pressure of the discs. A regular program of walking seems to be most successful. I advise leg stretches at the beginning and end of each day especially addressing the hamstring muscles. Having your diet evaluated by us will also address any nutritional deficiencies.
Hopefully these ideas will help you get some well deserved restful sleep. Contact our office at 860-620-9523 and we would be happy to speak with you in regards to your symptoms and find out if Chiropractic is right for you. Click on the link to the right to visit our website as well.