By Dr. Shawn Dill, DC
Doctor of Chiropractic
For those with restless leg syndrome (RLS), feeling comfortable in their own skin can be a challenge. The sensations associated with RLS—burning, creeping, tugging, crawling, tingling, and cramping may range in severity from simply being uncomfortable to downright painful. But the long-term, lasting effects may be even more troublesome.
Due to the nature of RLS, many people who suffer from the condition have problems falling and staying asleep at night because symptoms often worsen when lying down and trying to relax. The resulting exhaustion and fatigue can, in turn, affect professional and personal relationships as well as the ability to go about common daily activities.
The causes of RLS are usually unknown, but researchers are fairly certain that genetics are partly to blame. People with low iron levels or anemia are prone to developing RLS as are those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and kidney failure. Some prescription medications may aggravate symptoms, and some pregnant women may experience RLS, though symptoms usually disappear within four weeks after delivery. Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco may also trigger the condition.
If RLS keeps you up at night, there are some things you can do to provide relief. If RLS is associated with another medical condition, treating or managing that condition often helps provide relief from RLS. If caffeine, alcohol or tobacco are triggers for RLS symptoms, decreasing the use of these products may help reduce or eliminate symptoms. Maintaining the correct levels of iron, folate and magnesium is also important. A medical practitioner may prescribe certain medications, as well, which can help treat the condition.
More often than not, however, those who have RLS need to focus on relieving symptoms rather than treating the condition. For some people, changing sleep patterns to times when RLS symptoms are minimized helps ensure a restful sleep. Exercising, taking a hot bath, electric nerve stimulation, acupuncture, meditation, and using a heating pad or ice pack helps many people. Others also find that massaging the legs, such as with a Human Touch® massage chair or a Human Touch® foot & calf massager, provides relief, even if it may be temporary.
Though RLS is usually a lifelong condition without a cure, most people can control the symptoms comfortably and consistently so that it does not interfere with their lives.
May is National Better Sleep Month, an awareness month dedicated to educating consumers about the problems associated with sleep deprivation, such as RLS, and to providing education about the tools and solutions that are available to help individuals sleep better. To learn more about Human Touch’s massage and wellness solutions, please visit www.humantouch.com.