How to Better Help Your RestLess Legs Syndrome
Do you have the urge to move your legs because of unpleasant feelings in them?
Does the urge to move increase if you are resting or sitting down?
Do the unpleasant feelings decrease or go away when you move your legs?
Are the unpleasant feelings and the urge to move worse in the evening and night?
If you have answered yes to these questions, you may be suffering from a condition called Restless Legs Syndrome. 
You may not be familiar with the actual term Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). If not, let me start by defining it for you: It is a medical condition characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs, including burning, tugging, and tightening, and feels “like insects crawling inside the legs,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
In this post you’ll learn how to better help your restless legs syndrome
“ I call it an electric current going from the knees, down the leg and finally out the toe ( and then the toe jerks), and then it starts all over again….. that is if I can hold still that long!!!”—RSL sufferer-forum for RLS
These feelings only occur when patients are resting, mostly in the evenings and during sleep.
These unpleasant feelings go away when people move their legs. Patients with RLS have a strong urge to keep moving their legs. Patients say they cannot resist the urge to keep moving their legs. When sleeping, leg twitching is common.
The reason I wanted to define it is because many people, according to a survey conducted by the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation (RLSF), not only found that more than half of those who responded had never heard of RLS, but also found that many did not fully understand the impact that the condition can have on daily life.
Now that you know what RLS means, let me share with you how a certain group of people are using life style changes and medications to treat RLS – and how you can too. Read on for the eye-opening details…
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
It is thought that the cause may be a slight lack of, or imbalance of, some brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), especially one called dopamine. It is not known why this should occur. There may be some genetic factor, as primary RLS runs in some families. About 2-4 adults in 100 have some degree of RLS. It can affect anyone and can first develop at any age. It is more common as you become older, however. Women are affected twice as much as men.
What is life like With RLS?
One support group member, making initial inquiries, states the following:
“…I just get it all throughout my entire body and it won’t stop until I move around, and it gets worse and builds in intensity the longer I try not to move. It doesn’t hurt though, it’s just SUCH a terrible, annoying, weird feeling that just builds up. I know this won’t make sense (it just registers in my mind like this for some reason), but it feels like a, uh, metallic feeling? like if you lick or bite metal? That taste/feeling in your mouth. But that same feeling as if it’s running through all my veins. ITS SO WEIRD, I know. And it seems to mainly happen at times when I have to/feel like I have to sit still. Like, when I’m sitting in class or if I’m in bed with someone else and we’re going to sleep. It doesn’t ALWAYS happen, but sometimes. I really want to know what it is. Because it makes it impossible to fall asleep, no matter how tired I am.” 
Restless leg Syndrome Can Hit Home Quickly
Imagine sitting in a theater and watching a great show, then suddenly you feel a tingling or tightening in your legs. You need to get up and move your legs. So you quickly leave the theater, missing out on another amazing evening.
You and your friend are riding in his new hot wheels around town, than suddenly you tell him to stop the car because you “need to get out and take a walk.” Talk about a strained friendship?
The bottom line: Restless legs syndrome causes uncomfortable feelings in your legs. As a result, you have an urge to move your legs which gives temporary relief.
It can also ruin relationships. After all, you significant other won’t think it’s funny that you keep kicking them in the middle of the night.
So of course you want to find treatment for this condition. This is what we’ll look at now.
You can try to prevent RLS symptoms by:
- Avoiding (or limiting your intake of) caffeine, tobacco, which are common triggers of RLS symptoms
- Making sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet or by taking supplements (some studies have linked iron deficiency to RLS)
- Exercising regularly
- Engaging your mind with distracting activities (such as talking to people, needlework, or video games) when you have to remain seated
- If possible, raise your desktop so you can work and read standing up.
- When possible, take the stairs. Park your car some distance to increase walking.
- Taking hot or cold showers may reduce your symptoms. Rubbing cream or gel on your legs before going to bed may reduce symptoms.
- When traveling, take morning flights. Explain to flight attendants that you need to move around so your legs don’t bother you. 
It’s possible that the steps mentioned above may still not be enough. In that case, your your doctor may suggest medication.
Dopamine agonists are the most commonly used medicines to treat RLS. There are various types and brands. Dopamine agonists in effect top up a low level of dopamine which is thought to be lacking in people with RLS. Dopamine agonist medicines used to treat RLS include pramipexole, ropinirole and rotigotine. There is a good chance that symptoms will go or greatly reduce in severity if you take one of these medicines.
As with any medication, the benefit of treatment has to be weighed against the possible side-effects of treatment. The most common side-effects of these medicines are feeling sick (nausea), light-headedness, tiredness and difficulty with sleep. However, many people do not experience any side-effects, or they are mild, and the side-effects often go away with continued use.
That said, one should still use caution. for example,here are the suggested steps if one is using Ropinirole:
Before Taking Ropinirole For RestLess Leg Syndrome
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking Ropinirole it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are you are pregnant or breast-feeding
- If you have a heart condition or a blood vessel disorder.
- If you have ever had a mental health problem such as psychosis.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine 
While you certainly have learned a lot about RLS in this post, we’ve only really just scratched the surface when it comes to the larger, overall topic. And that’s why I’d like to conclude by pointing out a few resources you can use to help you learn more about RLS.
If you want to keep in the know about the latest developments on RLS, -then you’ll want to read:
Talk About Sleep This is a new site devoted to all aspects of sleep including RLS.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation
I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.
Pharmacy Times. 79.3 (Mar. 2013): p80.
2. Carol Rados
FDA Consumer. 40.3 (May-June 2006):
Pharmacy Times. 79.3 (Mar. 2013): p80.