Causes and cures for restless legs and leg cramps
Have you been awakened from sleep by pain in your leg(s)? Is your partner complaining about your restless, jerky leg movements throughout the night? Are you being robbed of nourishing sleep or much needed relaxation while you are reclined or sitting for long periods of time?
Restless Leg Syndrome is a new phrase or term to most people. Only recently has medical science recognized this as a common condition. Leg cramp pain is often known as “Charley Horse”. If anyone knows the origin of that term please let me know!
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder in which patients experience irrepressible sensations in the legs or arms while sitting or lying still. Terms used to describe RLS may include creepy, crawly, pulling, tingling, itching, or gnawing. Often the person with RLS has difficulty being specific about the sensations in their legs. The sensations are rarely described as painful. RLS differs from the “pins and needles” feeling when the blood supply is cut off from a limb (“My foot fell asleep!”). These uncomfortable feelings usually begin in the evening and upon arrival to bed, unless severe, RLS is absent during the morning and early afternoon.
Symptoms are worse or only present when the affected individual is at rest. The sensations usually disappear or diminish when the limb is moved. The person with RLS may experience movements of the toes, feet or legs in the evening when he/she sits or lies down. For this reason, RLS individuals are often labeled “nervous” or “fidgety.” Because those with RLS have a constant need to stretch or move their limbs to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings, sleep is often disturbed. Those who suffer from RLS can have very severe insomnia.
To watch a video about restless leg syndrome click here
Chances are the root cause of this condition is compromised circulation resulting in nerve endings being cut off from necessary blood supply.
RLS may be related to abnormalities in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help regulate muscle movements, or to abnormalities in the part of the central nervous system that controls automatic movements. Research is still being done in these areas.
Several different medical conditions can cause secondary RLS, however, the two most common conditions are iron-deficiency( anemia) and peripheral neuropathy.
Iron-deficiency anemia (“low blood”) means low levels of hemoglobin, the substance in the blood that carries oxygen and makes the blood appear red.
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves of the arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy has many causes. Diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy causes numbness or lack of sensation, tingling, and pain in the affected areas.
As many as 40% of pregnant women experience RLS symptoms. The symptoms usually fade within a few weeks after delivery.
Doctors will typically just write you a prescription for a sleep aid or a painkiller. But remember these are short fixes that just cover up the problem instead of curing it. May patients are prescribed a medication called Qualaquin. Qualaquin is approved by the FDA for the treatment of Malaria, but many doctors are prescribing the drug for the treatment of restless leg syndrome.
The FDA has not approved the drug for this use. The FDA has received reports of serious life-threatening reactions from the use of this drug – a total of 38 times. These included severe lowering of blood platelets, permanent damage to the kidneys, need for hospitalization and even death.
The FDA urges restless leg syndrome patients that are taking this drug to consult their doctors and discuss other treatment options available to them. There are many synthetic pharmaceuticals on the market which are used to treat the symptoms of this annoying condition, but remain mindful of the side effects which can often be worse than the superficial symptoms or vent he underlying cause of the condition.
So, what might be the secret of repairing your body so it will heal itself? How can you achieve relief from annoying symptoms and perhaps solve the underlying problem? If an individual suspects he or she has RLS, self-help measures may alleviate the tingling sensations. These include avoiding stimulants (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, certain medications), becoming overly tired, and exposure to very warm or very cold environments before going to bed.
A regular exercise program in the late afternoon, especially involving the legs, has shown to be effective in treating very mild cases of RLS. However, it is interesting to note that symptoms often get worse at the onset of regular exercise, but decrease after a week or two. Extension stretching of the calves, thighs, and hips at bedtime may help relieve symptoms. Home remedies such as a hot bath, leg massage, heating pad and aspirin may also help. Vitamin or mineral supplements can also be investigated, although to make an objective evaluation about whether or not they are effective, keeping a sleep log is recommended.
Horse chestnut and/or Japanese pagoda herbs can repair blood vessel walls and enhance circulation. Try convenient encapsulated formulations of these herbs for convenience or get the raw herbs in bulk and create your own compresses or infusions.
If self-help remedies prove ineffective, a visit to a health care provider is recommended. In addition to a thorough physical examination, appropriate laboratory tests, and a medical history, patients are often diagnosed on the basis of three classic symptoms. These symptoms include an increase in the sensations in one or more limbs when at rest, an irrepressible urge to move or relieve the sensations in the affected limb, and the reduction of the symptoms after movement. A physician will need to verify if the symptoms are genetic or nutrient-related.
Article by Cathleen V. Carr. A few favorite topics I write about: Green Living, Herbs, Food, Alternative Medicine Therapies, Elder Care. I welcome requests from subscribers regarding topics that fit under these or closely related categories.