complications

Restless Leg Syndrome

Deanne Stein Health Guide September 17, 2007
  • I have been fidgeting for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I fidget with my hands, but mostly it's with my legs and feet. I'll sway my leg when it's crossed over the other or simply tap my feet under my desk. It never bothers me because it's always such a conscious movement. It's almost a comfort sometimes when I'm excited or on deadline. But recently my legs are bothering me. For the past month, I have had this uncontrollable urge to move around while I'm in bed. I feel this crawling, tingling and sometimes burning sensation in both legs. My doctor told me I've developed restless leg syndrome. Great, what next, right?

     

    Apparently restless leg syndrome or RLS is common in pregnant women, especially during the last trimester. You notice the symptoms most when you're resting, right before you're about to fall asleep. It can also happen when you've been sitting for long periods of time. I tried shaking my legs, which helps, but only temporarily. As soon as I'm still, the symptoms start up again. My doctor said there are several reasons why this is happening. Iron deficiency, folate deficiency, hormonal changes and circulatory changes are all possible reasons for RLS. There are some drugs you can take to treat RLS, but unfortunately they are not safe while pregnant. Some women find it helps to stretch their legs, get a massage or use hot or cold packs. Also, avoid caffeine and antihistamines because they can make the symptoms worse. Finally, don't lie in bed reading or watching television, instead go to bed when you're actually ready to go to sleep. The good news is if you developed RLS during pregnancy, it will more than likely disappear within two to four weeks after you deliver.

     

    If you have RLS and you're not pregnant, you're doctor may recommend a medication to treat it. I was reading a study done this year about RLS and a connection with heart disease. It was more of a danger to elderly folks who suffer from RLS. The study was published in the April 2007 issue of Neurology. Four women and six men were enrolled in the study. They all had RLS and spent one night in a sleep lab. Researchers assessed both heart rate and blood pressure changes associated with periodic leg movements during sleep. The researchers concluded that periodic leg movements could boost nocturnal blood pressure and exacerbate cardiovascular disease risks, especially in the elderly. However, the study sample was small and the people in the study were not receiving treatment for RLS. It's best to check with your own doctor before taking any medication.

     

     

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    Watch this video to learn more about Restless Leg Syndrome and how a new treatment is helping those suffering from the condition.