Restless Leg Syndrome: A pain in the … LEG!

Jan 30, 2024

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming urge to move the legs.

It can also cause an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the thighs, calves, and feet. The symptoms can be mild to severe and are often accompanied by an involuntary jerking of the arms and legs.

The exact cause of RLS is unknown, but it is believed there is a connection to how the body handles the chemical hormone dopamine which is involved in controlling muscle movement.

In some cases, RLS can be caused by iron deficiency anaemia or kidney issues.  Additionally, one in five pregnant women may experience RLS in their last trimester.

Mild cases of RLS that are not linked to an underlying health condition may require no treatment and often self-resolve with a few lifestyle changes.

These may include a regular bedtime ritual, sufficient sleep, and avoiding stimulants like coffee and alcohol for 4-6 hours before bed.

More severe cases may require medical attention and prescriptions to help regulate the dopamine or iron in your body.

Whilst the exact cause of RLS is unknown here are a few natural solutions to try:

  • Hot and Cold –  alternating hot and cold compresses may assist with symptoms.
  • Relaxation and exercise – Yoga, meditation, and exercise can help with more restful sleep which can aid RLS symptoms.
  • Vitamins and Supplements – Certain vitamins may help with symptoms, such as iron, magnesium, and vitamin D. (Please discuss with your GP before adding these regularly)
  • Acupuncture – Traditional Chinese Acupuncture has been shown to help with more severe RLS.

It’s important to note that whilst these solutions may assist cases of RLS they are not a substitute for medical advice, and more severe cases should consult a medical doctor to ascertain any underlying causes.