How to Deal With Restless Legs Syndrome

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What to know

Restless legs syndrome often runs in families and has been linked to iron deficiency, end-stage kidney disease, and certain drugs, such as antidepressants and antihistamines. Here’s how to find relief.

Common symptoms

Most often, people complain of throbbing or crawly, jittery, itchy, or “electric” sensations in both legs, which are relieved by movement. You may also have an involuntary urge to move your legs while resting, predominantly at night and during sleep.

Treatments to try

For relief, try massaging your legs or soaking them in a tub of warm water. Applying a heating pad can help too.

Other remedies

Walk or bike for immediate relief. You can also try performing mental activities such as crossword puzzles and video games to stay alert during the day.

What makes it worse

Caffeine, alcohol, and drugs, such as antihistamines, can aggravate symptoms.

Another approach

Some research has suggested that cognitive behavioral therapy, or talk therapy with a psychologist, may be helpful for restless legs syndrome.

When to call a doctor

If lifestyle changes don’t work, your physician may recommend iron supplements or a drug such as one used to treat seizures or Parkinson’s to relieve symptoms; a mild sedative may be prescribed to help you sleep.