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Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is common syndrome that involves an irresistible urge to move the legs. This sensation can occur at work, when sitting at the desk for long periods at a time causes leg discomfort. It can be hard to pinpoint the cause of the feeling, but the common solution is to massage the legs, move them around, and get up and walk. The symptoms usually progress over time. 

In the evening, restless leg syndrome is very common. Symptoms include a creeping sensation in the leg improved by walking. When in bed, night time twitching may wake the individual from sleep or impact the sleep of their partner. 

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The symptoms are many, and often subtle. They often classically start after a period of rest (lying or sitting down) and are temporarily relieved with walking. Common symptoms of restless leg syndrome include:

  • Discomfort or aching of the legs

  • Tingling, pulling, or creeping sensation in the legs

  • Nighttime twitching of the legs (also known as periodic limb movements of sleep)

Symptoms are usually worse in the evening and increase with age. Symptoms are also improved in the morning. Women are affected more than men. Life stressors and depression are sometimes associated with the restless leg syndrome. 

While the cause of restless leg syndrome is thought to be neurologic, the symptoms of the condition can be caused by vein disease (also known as venous insufficiency). It is important to examine the structure and function of the lower leg veins and address any contribution that vein disease may have to your symptoms. Up to 90% of patients in one study of restless leg syndrome had improvement of their symptoms once the co-existing vein disease was treated. 

Treatments for restless leg syndrome include prescription medications, stretching, and massage. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, as well as exercise, good sleep hygiene, and quitting smoking may also help. If you wish to evaluate whether your veins are contributing to your restless legs, schedule an ultrasound consultation with Dr. Andrew. 

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