Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder characterized by an overwhelming need to move the legs. It is typically accompanied by a variety of sensations in the legs that can range from uncomfortable to extremely painful. Moving the legs relieves the sensations in many cases. Restless legs syndrome is often classed as a sleep disorder because the symptoms are worse at night and can interfere with the patient’s sleep.
What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?
In most cases, doctors don’t find an obvious cause. They do know that the disorder can run in some families, especially if the patient develops it before the age of 40. Some research has linked it to a low level of iron in the brain.
Other researchers strongly believe the condition is caused by a problem with the brain’s basal ganglia circuits. They use the neurotransmitter called dopamine to produce purposeful, voluntary and smooth movements. Disruption of the circuits often causes jerky and involuntary movements. Patients with Parkinson’s disease, which involves disruption of the basal ganglia circuits, often have RLS.
Restless legs syndrome is often seen in pregnant women, and it typically fades within four weeks after childbirth. Certain medications, like antidepressants or anti-nausea drugs, can make the symptoms worse. Restless legs syndrome is also associated with a number of chronic diseases like diabetes and peripheral neuropathy.
Restless legs syndrome has also been linked to venous insufficiency, in which the valves and/or walls in the leg veins aren’t working properly and, thus, allow the blood to pool in the veins. Studies have found that 22 percent of patients with RLS also have venous insufficiency.
In a 2008 study, researchers worked with patients who had both venous insufficiency and RLS. They treated some for their venous insufficiency and left the others as an untreated control group. The patients that received treatments showed improvement in their RLS symptoms, while the control group did not.
How is Venous Insufficiency Treated?
There are multiple ways to treat venous insufficiency that range from lifestyle changes to non-surgical treatments to surgery. In the 2008 study mentioned above, the researchers used a method called endovenous laser ablation. However, there are a variety of treatment options available for the condition. It all depends on the unique situation.
If you are showing signs of restless legs syndrome, pay a visit to Premier Vein Institute, with offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Riverview and Lakeland. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to learn more.