Do you get this odd, creeping sensation to move your legs and arms in the middle of the night? Does the irresistible urge to move your body keep you from reading a book, relaxing in front of the TV, or simply steals your good-night sleep?
What you may be experiencing is Restless Leg Syndrome. Also called RLS, this is a neurological disorder that makes your body feel uncomfortable all the time, with constant impulses to move it. RLS affects approximately 10 percent of adults in the United States. RLS may begin at any age, including childhood, and affects approximately twice as many women as men. Eighty percent of those affected by RLS also experience Periodic Limb Movement Disorder during sleep, in which the patient has brief “jerks” of the legs or arms while sleeping. Latest research suggests, though, that RLS is frequently misdiagnosed.
So, what’s happening?
Suffering from RLS makes your body and limbs – mostly legs – feel extremely uncomfortable. Trying to stay still sitting or lying down is exactly what triggers off the symptoms and prevents you from relaxing. So far, scientists haven’t agreed on what actually causes this unbearable pulling and throbbing in your legs. Those who treat varicose veins have long heard from their patients’ descriptions of throbbing, buzzing, creepy-crawly pains in the lower extremities – symptoms that sound very similar to those of RLS. Restless legs syndrome has long been accepted as a symptom of venous insufficiency by phlebologists.
Venous insufficiency and varicose veins develop in your legs for various reasons, but in all cases they are related to non-functioning vein valves. You need your vein valves healthy because they allow blood to flow from the legs toward the heart against gravity, preventing venous reflux (reverse flow). If the valves are damaged or the vein wall is too weak, the blood pools in the legs, which results in formation of varicose veins or their enlargement.
Is RLS common? You could say so. Up to 15% of the American population are diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome. Same high numbers go for Varicose Veins – estimates say that at least 20 – 25 million Americans have varicose veins, which makes problems with veins one of the most common chronic conditions in North America.
What causes Restless Leg Syndrome to happen?
RLS may have genetic causes, and has been associated with low iron storage in the brain as well as diminished dopamine in the basal ganglia (the brain area also associated with Parkinson’s disease). RLS is associated with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, renal insufficiency, iron deficiency anemia, peripheral neuropathy, and multiple sclerosis. The focus of this article is the association between RLS and venous insufficiency. RLS occurring secondarily from a chronic disease can often be improved or cured by adequately treating the associated condition.
Whether you are prone to be affected by Restless Leg Syndrome depends on a variety of factors, most of which are direct risk factors of varicose veins as well:
Other conditions (e. g. iron deficiency, auto-immune disorders)
Will it get worse over time?
Unfortunately, yes. There is evidence that Restless Leg Syndrome is more common and tends to get worse with increasing age. Plus, if your problem is related to some venous underlying conditions, those will definitely get worse over time and can also develop into something much more serious, such as blood clots or leg ulcers.
How do I treat Restless Leg Syndrome?
This really depends on what the underlying condition of your RLS ultimately is – is it a neurological issue or is it related to one of many venous conditions.
Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is paramount! Make sure to consult as many medical professionals as necessary to understand what the underlying condition of your restless limbs is and thus avoid improper treatment. Whether you end up needing one of the varicose vein treatments , some supportive medication and compression stockings, or the combination of all these, you definitely need to find the best specialist to treat your condition. And thanks to modern technology, treating varicose veins and venous reflux has become highly effective. The new procedures mostly use laser technologies, don’t require surgery, and can be covered by insurance. You’ll be walking home on the same day of treatment with relatively little discomfort, and most likely sleeping better as a result.
What should I do now?
When RLS co-exists with venous insufficiency, treating the venous insufficiency can provide substantial improvement in the patient’s symptoms and subsequently the patient’s quality of life.
If you’ve experienced the restless feeling in your limbs, the best way to start is to have your leg veins examined by a phlebologist. This is a painless, non-invasive and absolutely risk free examination. No preparation is necessary, and you will either comfortably lie in a chair or stand in an upright position (this is to assess the blood flow direction).
You will need to find a vein specialist – phlebologist – like Dr. Mathai at Premier Vein Specialists, who will perform a physical examination, using various technological devices. Just call and schedule a free consultation. These are all state-of-the-art facilities, with friendly staff and maximum comfort.
If your vein specialist finds nothing usual with the current state of your veins, then you’ll have to proceed to look for further help – typically from a neurologist – to discover the exact cause of your restless limbs, which will most likely be related to your nervous system.
Contact Premier Vein Specialists and set up your free consultation.