Restless Leg Syndrome
Symptoms and Causes
Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms and causes can be mysterious and frustrating. I know, and so does my elderly father. Even though the specific causes of our RLS eluded us, we did find ways to get relief – naturally and without drugs. In our case. But it all depends on what triggers it off.
First, a brief overview of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – although if you’re reading this page, you may already be aware of this information.
Restless Leg Syndrome most frequently hits at night, and follows our circadian rhythms. But it can also be present during the day if you sit for long periods, or lay down. (If you work, you feel like you want to get up and move around a lot, which can pose a problem in some jobs). Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms can creep up on you slowly, as it did with me, and you may not realize you have this condition at first.
Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms can range from just annoying and mild, as was Dad’s and my situation, to very problematic – especially since it affects quality sleep (like kicking your partner!) and can contribute to depression or anxiety. And aging and sleep may already be an issue with many in the 55+ bracket.
You may feel the typical crawling feeling in or along your legs, pulling and tugging sensations, leg jerks, tingling, twitching and fidgeting, or aching and pain; even leg cramps at night, whether mild or severe. RLS just makes your legs feel – well – really, really restless.
Causes are myriad and may never be known for some people. And it can be the symptom of something more serious. So it is wise to consult a doctor regarding any of these possible causes and seek an appropriate Restless Leg Syndrome treatment.
I was pretty sure that I did not have any serious conditions, but did review them with my doctor anyway. These are the most typical causes of Restless Leg Syndrome that were explained to me:
- Gender (it is more frequent with women)
- Genetic tendency
- Thyroid problems
- Low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain
- Parkinson’s Disease (which can include dopamine deficiency)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Kidney disease
- Fluid retention in the legs
- Vascular issues with the legs
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Fibromyalgia issues
- Problems with medications
- Iron deficiency
- Nutritional deficiencies (i.e., Vitamin B12, magnesium, folate)
- Sleep apnea
- Pulled or tight muscles in legs or hips
- Serious nocturnal leg cramps
- Chronic alcoholism
- Strong use of daily caffeine and/or alcohol, especially at night
- Lack of regular exercise
Although my Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms were very typical, since I did not have any of the serious medical conditions mentioned above nor was I taking any medications, the causes for me were a bit more iffy. But at least, to the best of our knowledge, nothing “serious.” Although I’d had a tendency toward anemia in the past, I was not currently deficient in iron. I’d also been taking a very high-quality vitamin/mineral supplement for years, along with fish oil capsules. I was not overweight, and have been into healthy eating for decades.
So that left a few other possibilities: gender, low dopamine for some reason, perhaps genetic tendency, pulled and tight muscles in my hip, lack of regular exercise (I confess), and sometimes wine in the evening (a huge no-no, I know). Aside from an occasional glass of wine though, I didn’t have any serious habits. So we could not figure out what were the specific causes. I had to wing it based on the above ideas.
And I did have success in alleviating my Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms; actually, for both me and my Dad. (I will include our solutions on a separate page about Restless Leg Syndrome treatment). I am not into taking medication unless it is very urgent, but opt for more natural (and inexpensive) remedies first. So I tried several and they worked.
Again, success will depend on the underlying causes of RLS. Before you begin anything, it is always recommended to visit your doctor to determine whether serious issues are at play. And then come up with the least expensive, most natural game plan first. You may find, like I did, that medications are not necessary.
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