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    5 Home Remedies for Restless Legs Syndrome

    5 Home Remedies for Restless Legs Syndrome

     Restless legs syndrome is a type of neurological disorder that causes varying sensations in the leg, such as pain and nighttime twitching or kicking. Other symptoms can be difficult to explain but they can be described as creeping, crawling, electric, and pulling sensations. The symptoms of RLS tend to get worse when you’re relaxing, sitting, or lying in your bed, particularly at nighttime. For this reason, people with RLS often have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, reducing their quality of life.

     

    The severity and frequency of RLS symptoms also depend on each individual. Women are also more prone to RLS than men and can occur at any age (1). If you’re having trouble sleeping at night because of RLS, you’ve probably searched for certain remedies that can ease the symptoms. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the remedies you can do at home to help manage your RLS.

    1. Lifestyle and Dietary Modification

    Old habits die hard but if you’ve been plagued by RLS symptoms, you need to take action to improve your quality of life. One remedy is to quit or cut down on smoking. Aside from smoking’s detrimental effects, it can also affect your sleep because it can make you feel edgy.

     

    Generally, smoking and drinking alcohol or coffee tend to aggravate the symptoms of RLS. Even though alcohol can induce sleep in some people, know that it can also affect the quality of your sleep. It can even make sleep apnea worse. Like alcohol, caffeine can also interfere with your sleep because it is a stimulant. Additionally, consuming foods with high sugar content, including dairy products have also been recognized as RLS triggers. Try to avoid or eliminate these triggers, especially before bedtime to see if it can help ease your RLS symptoms.

    2. Dietary Supplements

    According to some studies, taking certain supplements may help ease the symptoms of RLS. One study has shown that vitamin D supplements can help reduce the severity of the RLS symptoms (2). Although using supplements to relieve RLS symptoms still require more research, existing studies have shown promising results.

     

    There is also an association found between RLS and other vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, which include low iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin E levels in the body (3, 4). The results of these studies show an improvement in the symptoms when these vitamins and minerals are given to people with RLS.

     

    When your healthcare provider finds out that your mild to moderate RLS symptoms are due to a deficiency in magnesium, supplementing with magnesium is a reliable and effective treatment for your condition (5, 6). Symptoms of RLS can also be relieved through the intake of iron supplements, particularly if you have iron deficiency (7). Your healthcare provider can order a simple blood test to determine if your body is low in iron, magnesium, and other deficiencies. For iron deficiency, your healthcare provider will prescribe oral iron supplements. However, intravenous iron supplementation may also be considered as a form of treatment in some cases.  

     

    3. Warm or Cold Compresses

    One of the tried and tested home remedies when it comes to relieving pain, swelling, and inflammation in certain areas of the body is the application of warm or cold compresses. This traditional home remedy can be effective in improving the symptoms brought about by RLS (8, 9). Hot and cold therapy can also enable new sensations for the nervous system to process, which may result in a reduction of unpleasant RLS symptoms. Aside from applying hot and cold packs to your affected leg, you can also take a hot or cold bath before bedtime.

    4. Healthy Sleep Habit

    Developing good sleep hygiene is very important if you regularly experience RLS symptoms. Since RLS often disrupts nighttime sleep, make sure to avoid its triggers or factors that can worsen the symptoms. Creating a comfortable sleep environment and following a sleep schedule can help promote sleep every night.

     

    To create a good sleep environment, consider investing in soft sheets and a quality mattress as well as clearing away electronic gadgets, such as mobile phones and computers, which can definitely disrupt your sleep. Go to bed and wake up the same time every single day to help your body adapt. You can also take note or keep a sleep journal so you can track your progress and identify which approach doesn’t work in getting a good night’s sleep.

    5. Exercise and Relaxation Techniques

    People with RLS report significant relief when they exercise. According to the National Institutes of Health, mild symptoms or RLS can be alleviated through moderate daily exercises, such as jogging, cycling, walking, and other physical activities that can help your legs move. Since pressure can also help alleviate the symptoms of RLS, wearing compression stockings or socks is also beneficial (10). Compression socks also provide extra leg support and improved blood circulation whether you’re exercising or at rest.

     

    Although exercise increases your chances of having a restful sleep at night, you should avoid strenuous exercises, especially those that can cause joint and muscle fatigue to avoid triggering the symptoms of RLS. Before bedtime, you can have a nice warm bath to help relax your leg muscles.

     

    The symptoms of RLS can also be triggered by stress, so anything that can minimize stress levels can also help ease your symptoms. Aside from exercise, people with RLS can also benefit from relaxation techniques, such as yoga, Pilates, stretching, meditation, and breathing.

    When to Seek Medical Help

    People with restless legs syndrome do not always require medical intervention to relieve their symptoms. Mild to moderate cases of restless legs can be managed at home. However, when severe RLS symptoms occur and when these symptoms disrupt your daily routine and sleep pattern, seeking medical help becomes a priority. Significant discomfort caused by RLS symptoms may be due to an underlying health condition that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional.

     

    References

    1. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet. (2018). Ninds.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Restless-Legs-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet
    2. Wali S, e. (2015). The effect of vitamin D supplements on the severity of restless legs syndrome. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25148866
    3. Popoviciu L, e. (1993). Clinical, EEG, electromyographic and polysomnographic studies in restless legs syndrome caused by magnesium deficiency. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8363978
    4. Sagheb MM, e. (2012). Efficacy of vitamins C, E, and their combination for treatment of restless legs syndrome in hemodialysis patients: a randomized, double-blind, plac... - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22317944
    5. Hornyak M, e. (1998). Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9703590?dopt=Abstract
    6. Silber, M., Ehrenberg, B., Allen, R., Buchfuhrer, M., Earley, C., Hening, W., & Rye, D. (2004). An Algorithm for the Management of Restless Legs Syndrome. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 79(7), 916-922. doi:10.4065/79.7.916
    7. Guo, S., Huang, J., Jiang, H., Han, C., Li, J., Xu, X., … Wang, T. (2017). Restless Legs Syndrome: From Pathophysiology to Clinical Diagnosis and Management. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 9, 171. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00171
    8. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/restless-leg-syndrome/restless-legs-syndrome-rls-treatment
    9. Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/restless-legs-syndrome/what-is-rls/treatment.html
    10. Wilt TJ, MacDonald R, Ouellette J, et al. Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2012 Nov. (Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, No. 86.) Introduction. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115373/

    How to Deal with Chronic Venous Insufficiency

    How to Deal with Chronic Venous Insufficiency

    Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition caused by weak valves in the leg veins. In this condition, these valves don’t properly function so blood won’t normally flow and return from the legs to the heart. In other words, blood tends to collect or “pool” in these leg veins and cause unpleasant symptoms in return.

    Chronic venous insufficiency is often related to other venous system disorders, such as varicose veins. There are also factors that can increase your risk of venous insufficiency. These risk factors include heredity, obesity, aging, a history of leg trauma or injury, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle (1, 2). As the condition progresses, symptoms such as leg pain, swelling, skin pigmentation, dermatitis, and ulceration also tend to get worse.

    Although chronic venous insufficiency can progress and become risky, it is not always as life-threatening as peripheral artery disease. Venous insufficiency can be disabling and painful, but there are things that we can do to help ease these symptoms.  

    How is venous insufficiency treated?

    If you are diagnosed with venous insufficiency, most treatment plans created by your healthcare provider are often based on the following factors:

     

    • Age
    • Health condition
    • Medical history
    • Specific signs and symptoms
    • Your response to certain medications or treatment methods

     

    The main goal of CVI treatment is to reduce the swelling in your legs and prevent the formation of leg ulcers. Depending on your overall health condition, your healthcare provider may recommend a combination or treatment or therapies, which include:

    1. Lifestyle Modification

    To help improve the flow of blood in your legs, most healthcare providers suggest certain changes in your lifestyle. If you heed your doctor’s advice, lifestyle changes can help prevent and reduce the symptoms of venous insufficiency, such as edema or swelling, leg pain, and cramping. If you have had surgery or invasive procedures due to venous insufficiency, lifestyle changes can significantly improve your recovery and prevent debilitating symptoms from recurring.

    2. Elevating Your Legs

    The risk of blood pooling in your leg veins increases if you sit or stand for a long period of time, whether you’re at work, driving long distances, or getting on long-haul flights. Simply elevating your legs can help improve the flow of blood in your legs and reduce swelling, including other symptoms of venous insufficiency. Avoid crossing your legs and try to move your ankles or legs from time to time to keep your circulation going. You can place your legs on a footstool to elevate your feet and legs.

    3. Keeping a Healthy Weight

    People who are obese have an increased risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency, which is why losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can really help improve and prevent the recurrence of CVI symptoms. To help you maintain a normal body mass index, your healthcare provider may recommend a weight management program to help you adjust, cope, and develop healthy eating habits, including exercises to keep you active. Some of these exercises may include walking, jogging, or bicycling, which you can do several times per week.

    4. Wearing Compression Stockings

    Compression garments may not always be pleasant to wear, especially when the heat index goes up to 115 degrees outside. However, they really do help in supporting your veins and improving the blood flow from your legs up to your heart. Compression garments are made with an elastic fabric with different levels of graduation or pressure. They also come in different styles and lengths.

    When it comes to venous insufficiency, compression socks or stockings can be prescribed by your healthcare provider. The amount of pressure prescribed will also depend on the severity of your condition. Those who have developed ulceration in their legs may require compression bandages. Different studies have also confirmed the effectiveness of compression garments in improving the signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency (3, 4).

    5. Avoiding High Heels and Tight-Fitting Clothes

    Wearing ill-fitting clothes and high heels can hinder blood to properly flow in your legs, putting you more at risk of developing venous insufficiency. Choose lose-fitting clothes and wear low-heeled shoes instead to help your feet and legs feel more comfortable and at ease.

    6. Limiting Your Salt Intake

    Swelling in your legs tends to get worse if you regularly consume a diet that’s high in sodium or salt. Our bodies retain water and cause excessive fluid buildup in our legs if we consume a high sodium diet. This fluid buildup puts extra pressure on our leg veins, which weakens the walls of our veins. Constant pressure and weakening of vein walls eventually lead to venous insufficiency.

    7. Taking Medications

    Together with compression garments, certain medications, such as aspirin, may also be prescribed by your healthcare provider, particularly if you have developed leg ulcers. This treatment combination can help improve the flow of blood in your legs and ease most symptoms of venous insufficiency.

    Diuretics or medications that can help expel excess water in the body are also prescribed in certain cases, especially when other medical conditions, such as renal disease and heart disease are linked to swelling. When an infection is present, antibiotics may also be prescribed.

    Complications of chronic venous disease such as stasis dermatitis or skin irritation due to CVI can be relieved by using skin moisturizers. Although moisturizers do not treat CVI, they can definitely help keep your skin from cracking or drying. If you also have leg inflammation with itching, topical corticosteroids may also be prescribed.

    8. Medical Procedures

    Certain medical procedures can be suggested by your healthcare provider if the above remedies don’t work for you. These procedures can either be surgical or nonsurgical. However, surgery is only performed in patients with severe CVI. The type of surgery usually done is ligation or vein stripping, in which damaged veins are tied or removed through tiny incisions. Other minimally invasive procedures for venous insufficiency include sclerotherapy and laser ablation.

    Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a chemical into damaged veins and uses local anesthesia. The injected chemical causes scarring in your damaged leg veins and inhibits them from carrying blood. When this happens, blood can smoothly flow through other veins and return back to the heart. Laser ablation involves tube or catheter insertion into the damaged leg vein and closes it. When these damaged veins are closed, there will be a reduction in blood pooling in your leg resulting in improved blood flow.

    References

    1. MA, P. (2003). Chronic venous insufficiency: the genetic influence. - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12934752
    2. Criqui, M., Denenberg, J., Bergan, J., Langer, R., & Fronek, A. (2007). Risk factors for chronic venous disease: The San Diego Population Study. Journal Of Vascular Surgery, 46(2), 331-337. doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2007.03.052
    3. Owayed Al Shammeri, A. (2014). Chronic Venous Insufficiency: prevalence and effect of compression stockings. International Journal Of Health Sciences, 8(3), 231. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4257358/
    4. Ibegbuna V, e. (2003). Effect of elastic compression stockings on venous hemodynamics during walking. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12563216
    5. Venous Insufficiency Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Graduated Compression and Other Physical Modalities, Venoablation. (2018). Emedicine.medscape.com. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1085412-treatment
    6. Chronic Venous Insufficiency – Vascular Cures. (n.d.). Vascularcures.org. Retrieved from https://vascularcures.org/chronic-venous-insufficiency/
    7. Chronic Venous Insufficiency | Society for Vascular Surgery. (n.d.). Vascular.org. Retrieved from https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-conditions/chronic-venous-insufficiency