Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a common condition, affecting 2-4% of the adult population. Although its cause is not completely known there may be an association between RLS and chronic venous insufficiency.
Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS, is a condition that can interrupt sleep and cause general discomfort in the form of unpleasant sensations in the legs. While it is a common condition, little is known about what causes it.
Certain medical conditions and drugs can produce symptoms which mimic RLS, and other conditions may coexist with RLS, as well. Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or vein disease, is believed to be one possible cause of the condition.
There is no simple blood test or diagnostic procedure that can diagnose RLS, but there is a series of common symptoms.
RLS Symptoms and Treatments
While the nuances of the sensations vary, those with RLS find there are common symptoms between cases. If you experience any or all of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from RLS.
- You have an irresistible urge to move your legs, often with associated leg discomfort and unpleasant sensations in the legs. These sensations are often described as “creepy-crawly,” an “electric current,” tingling, burning or “nervous legs.”
- These unpleasant leg movements and sensations occur during periods of rest or inactivity (while lying down or sitting).
- Moving or stretching your legs will partially or completely relieve these unpleasant sensations. Once this activity ceases, symptoms often recur.
- These symptoms are worse during the evenings or nights, or occur only during nighttime hours.
At home, or with the guidance of a homeopathic practitioner, you can relieve some RLS discomfort with:
- Massage, stretching, or exercise
- Electrical stimulation (like with a TENS unit)
- Vibration therapy
- Pneumatic compression devices
- Light therapy
If diagnosed with RLS, a doctor may prescribe medical intervention such as:
- Iron supplementation
- Agents that act on the nervous system: carbidopa/levodopa, dopamine agonists, Gabapentin
RLS and Venous Insufficiency
Several studies over the last 25 years have identified an association between RLS and Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), or vein disease. Patients with CVI will often have:
- Varicose veins
- Leg and/or ankle swelling
- Leg pain
- Leg fatigue or heaviness
- Skin changes, particularly of the ankles or lower legs
CVI is diagnosed with an ultrasound examination of the legs. Patients with CVI will be found to have abnormal findings of venous blood flow. In many cases, these abnormalities can be treated with in-office procedures that can eliminate the abnormal flow.
Treating Venous Insufficiency will often relieve the symptoms of RLS
Some patients who are diagnosed with CVI will also display symptoms consistent with RLS. In these cases, treating the underlying CVI will eliminate the Restless Legs symptoms. Several different office-based treatment modalities are available to treat Venous insufficiency.
Physicians at Center for Vein Restoration specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of Chronic Venous Insufficiency. If you suffer from varicose veins, leg swelling, heaviness, or fatigue, you may have underlying CVI. If you also have symptoms consistent with RLS, treating the venous disease may alleviate those symptoms as well.
Easily set up a virtual or in person consultation today if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. You can either schedule a consultation online, or by contacting The Center for Vein Restoration at 855-653-8346.
Author: Lawrence Starin, MD, FACS
Lead Physician at Center for Vein Restoration in Owings Mills.
Dr. Starin is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has consistently been honored by his peers by receiving “Top Doc” recognition in the Washingtonian and CheckBook magazines.