Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a fairly common and uncomfortable disorder. RLS causes the urge to move or massage the legs while at rest. Experts estimate that 10% of the population suffers from this condition.
Symptoms typically onset in the evening when you are sitting, resting, or lying down. While moving eases the unpleasant feeling, it only provides short-term relief.
Restless Leg Syndrome can affect anyone from children to elderly. While there is no known cause for RLS, some researchers suspect that the sensation comes from an imbalance of dopamine. Others believe it is a hereditary condition. Others have noticed that changes in hormones such as pregnancy bring on restless leg syndrome symptoms.
Here are the most common symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome:
- You have an irresistible compulsion to move your legs, especially while resting.
- Your legs feel achy, numb, throbbing, or even like ants crawling on them. The feelings have also been described as “an itch you cannot scratch,” “pins and needles,” or “pulling.”
- You have involuntary jerking or twitching in your legs.
- The uncomfortable sensations in your legs make it hard to sleep.
- Your symptoms get better when you move your legs or walk around.
I think I have Restless Leg Syndrome, what now?
RLS & Coinciding Conditions
Discomfort and irresistible movement seem harmless enough, but several conditions that coincide with this disorder.
- Peripheral Neuropathy. This is what happens when the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord are damaged. Sometimes this is due to a chronic illness, or even alcoholism.
- Iron Deficiency. It’s common for an iron deficiency to worsen restless leg syndrome.
- Kidney Failure. Often linked to anemia, kidney failure can worsen restless leg syndrome because of low iron in the blood.
- Spinal Cord Conditions. If anesthesia has been placed into the spinal cord, such as a spinal block, your risk of worsening RLS can increase.
- Parkinson’s Disease. Those prescribed dopaminergic agonist medications usually for Parkinson’s Disease can develop restless leg syndrome.
Relief for Restless Leg Syndrome
If you identify with these symptoms or have any of the above health concerns. you may have RSL and are probably desperate for a way to relieve it.
Some basic measures to take include regular exercise during the daytime as well as cutting or limiting caffeine and alcohol. There are also a few options for prescription medications to treat Restless Legs. However, they can cause unfavorable or sometimes intolerable side effects.
Patients seeking a safe, medication-free therapy should consider a pneumatic compression device. This is a compression machine that pumps air into sleeves worn around the legs. The sleeves compress and release to mimic ambulation (walking or moving around) when you are at rest.
Compression sleeves can help alleviate Restless Leg Syndrome discomfort and, in some cases, resolve the disorder completely.
One study noted that the use of the compression therapy system resulted in a reduction of RLS symptoms in 90% of patients. Typically, patients wear the compression sleeves for an hour before bed, and sometimes while going to sleep.*
So why do compression therapy devices help ease the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?
There are a variety of theories as to why compression devices help relieve RLS. Enhanced lymphatic flow, removal of fluids that cause the symptoms from the lower legs, increased blood flow, and improved venous drainage are a few symptoms that compression can aid.
Whatever the cause, it is clear that these calf compression devices are doing the job for most RLS sufferers.
Additional Concerns with RLS
RLS does not contribute to any major health problems. However, it can affect sleep and quality of life.
- Lettieri C, Eliasson A. Sequential Compression Devices for Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome. Medicine, 2007;86:317-323
- Lettieri C, Eliasson A. Pneumatic compression devices are an effective therapy for restless legs syndrome. Chest. 2009;135:74-80.
- Rajaram SS, Shanahan J, Ash C, et al. Enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP) as a novel treatment for restless legs syndrome (RLS): a preliminary test of the vascular neurologic hypothesis for RLS. Sleep Med. 2005;6:101–106.
Contraindications: Do not use the PowerPlay Calf Massager if you have a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis, or blood clot in the lower leg).