Does Magnesium Help Restless Leg Syndrome?
Many alternative therapies have been touted as a cure for restless leg syndrome. Is magnesium one of them?
Patients who suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS) understandably seek remedies for the twitching and cramping that keeps them up at night. And if you’re one of the thousands of Americans who deal with RLS on a nightly basis, you’ve probably come across many alternative therapy options — one of which is magnesium supplements.
Magnesium is a naturally-occurring mineral in many common foods, including whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and baked potatoes. You can also buy magnesium supplements. Magnesium is vital for many bodily functions, ranging from heart health to energy production.
Magnesium is also important for sleep regulation. That’s because it balances the amount of calcium in our cells; too much calcium in the muscle cells can cause twitches and spasms similar to RLS symptoms. As a result, a proper level of magnesium acts as a barrier against an excess of calcium in the body, helping you relax and sleep. Conversely, one of the characteristics of magnesium deficiency is insomnia.
But is magnesium a cure for RLS? Although there have been some studies suggesting that magnesium offers RLS patients relief, magnesium will not remedy the condition if there are other factors causing RLS — one of which could be varicose veins.
What’s Causing Your RLS
A 1998 study published in the journal Sleep reported that 10 people suffering from periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) and moderate RLS slept better after taking magnesium supplements. However, you should only take a magnesium supplement after consulting with a doctor, as it may interfere with other medications you have been prescribed.
Your doctor will also want to do a full medical review to learn what may be causing your RLS. RLS has been attributed to many conditions, including an iron deficiency, diabetes, and heredity. It may also be a side-effect of certain prescription drugs like antidepressants, anti-nausea solutions, and allergy medications.
RLS has also been associated with an imbalance in the level of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls muscle activity, and too little of it can lead to neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease that are marked by shaky limb movements, balance difficulties, and stiffness. Treating those conditions can bring about relief from RLS symptoms. In some cases, RLS has no link to an underlying medical issue and is known as primary RLS.
Another condition that may be the source of involuntary nighttime leg movements is venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency can be traced to malfunctioning vein valves that allow blood to collect within the vein walls, thereby leading to distended veins. Many of the characteristics of varicose veins — pain, swelling, and cramping — mirror those of RLS. What’s more, the discomfort of varicose veins tends to become more pronounced at night when you’re trying to sleep and aren’t distracted by your daily activities.
Several studies have highlighted a connection between RLS and varicose veins. When the subjects in these studies were treated for varicose veins, their RLS symptoms greatly diminished.
Therefore, if you suffer from RLS and also have varicose veins, consulting with a vascular specialist about the different treatment options for your bulging veins could help you get an uninterrupted slumber. Today’s varicose vein procedures are done on an outpatient basis, require little to no anesthesia, and allow you to resume your normal activities after a short recovery period.
Surgery for varicose veins ranges from sclerotherapy, which uses a safe solution to collapse the vein, to ambulatory phlebectomy, which removes the damaged vein through a small incision. Once the swollen vein is removed, blood circulates to healthier nearby veins and the varicose vein gradually disappears. Whether or not you’re experiencing the nighttime limb movements of RLS, getting treatment for your varicose veins can vastly improve your vein health.
Take Care of Your Vein Health
Your vein health is a critical component of your overall well-being. At the Center for Vein Restoration, we specialize in treating varicose veins and spider veins with the latest in surgical and non-surgical methods. If you are tired of the pain and swelling of varicose veins, contact us today for an appointment.