After a long day, you want nothing more than a good night’s rest to reset yourself. For those with restless legs syndrome (RLS), however, this much-needed rest may not come thanks to unpleasant sensations that compel their legs to move and twitch. During the Coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing that ensued, many people are complaining more frequently about RLS.
At Soffer Health Institute, board-certified cardiologist, Dr. Ariel Soffer, and our medical team offer a wide range of services that cater to vascular health, which includes restless legs syndrome.
Here’s a look at this condition and what we can do about better managing restless legs syndrome.
Restless legs syndrome 101
Restless legs syndrome affects up to 7-10% of the adult population in the United States, which means millions of people struggle with jumpy legs that prevent them from getting the restorative sleep they need.
The hallmark of RLS is uncomfortable sensations in your legs during the night that leads you to move or twitch your legs. These sensations may present themselves in different ways, including:
- Tickling or crawling
- Aching or throbbing
To stop the sensation, you feel an urge to move or jerk your legs to shake away the discomfort. These movements likely prevent you from getting the sleep you need, leading to daytime fatigue.
The exact cause of RLS, which is also called Willis-Ekbom disease, isn’t clear, but there are some factors that may place you more at risk, including:
- Age — most people develop RLS after the age of 45
- Gender — RLS is twice as common among women than men
- Heredity — half of those with RLS have a family history of the condition
- Pregnancy — a change in hormones may play a role in RLS
In addition to the above, researchers have found that an iron deficiency may play a role in RLS, which brings us to some of your treatment options.
Treating restless legs syndrome
When it comes to identifying RLS, we rely on a review of your symptoms, as there’s no diagnostic test for this condition.
If we find that you meet the criteria for RLS, we thoroughly evaluate your health and review your medical history, as well as your family’s medical history. These steps are important as they guide us in our treatments. For example, if we find that you have an iron deficiency, our first steps will be to replenish your iron through supplements and dietary adjustments.
If we discover that you have a family history of RLS, our approach may be slightly different and include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as reducing alcohol and nicotine
- Bedtime relaxation techniques, such as a soothing bath
- Anti-seizure medications
RLS affects people in varying degrees of severity, and we take this into account when we recommend a treatment program. If your RLS is mild, for example, a few lifestyle tweaks may be sufficient in quieting your legs. If, however, your RLS is severe, causing you pain or chronically preventing you from getting sleep, we may turn to prescription medications.
The first step in treating RLS is to perform a thorough evaluation, which we can do at our Florida locations in Aventura and Weston. As well, we offer telemedicine so that we can discuss your problem while you stay in the comfort of your own home. To get started, simple click here to contact us.