Restless leg syndrome (RLS – sometimes seen as restless legs syndrome and also known as Willis-Ekbom disease) is a common neurological sensory-motor disorder characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when at rest. The condition may also produce unpleasant tingling, itching, aching or burning sensations in the legs. Approximately 10% of adults and 2% of children in the U.S. are affected by RLS.
Often occurring at night, RLS can make it difficult to fall asleep. It can also be associated with involuntary movement of the legs while asleep, called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). These movements can cause ongoing sleep disruption, both to the person suffering from RLS and anyone with whom they share a bed.
In many instances, RLS can be successfully treated. However, you should talk to your doctor about proven treatments rather than using “home remedies” that claim to provide restless leg syndrome relief.
Why Home Remedies for RLS Aren’t Reliable
Some people choose to forgo medical treatment and instead look to home remedies for relief of RLS symptoms. They come in many forms, including pills, drops and topical applications. However, there are a number of reasons to steer clear of these remedies, including:
- Failure to uncover the cause of RLS. Some people have what is called primary RLS, which has no known cause. For others, there can be one or more underlying issues that should be addressed. For example, medical conditions like diabetes and certain medications can play a role in RLS symptoms. Focusing on home remedies may keep serious health concerns from being discovered.
- Potential adverse effects. Many substances that offer relief of RLS symptoms have not been subjected to scientific testing. Consequently, any potential adverse effects are unknown.
- Continued suffering from RLS symptoms. By experimenting with one ineffective RLS home remedy after another over a period of months or years, people suffer needlessly as they delay the relief that may be achieved with actual medical treatment.
Proven Treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome
The best way to address RLS is by talking with your doctor. There are a number of lifestyle changes and treatments that can help minimize or eliminate RLS symptoms, including:
- Getting more dietary iron if you are tested and found to be deficient
- Reducing or eliminating consumption of certain substances and foods linked to RLS including caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and refined sugar
- Getting regular (ideally daily) exercise
- Taking one of the four FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of RLS (Requip, Mirapex, Horizant, and Neupro) as prescribed
If you believe you suffer from RLS, the sooner you get sound medical advice, the sooner you will enjoy the relief of your symptoms.