According to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, approximately 10 per cent of the population lives with restless legs syndrome (RLS). It affects individuals of all ages and races and both genders and can cause extreme pain. With proper treatment, though, many individuals are able to reduce discomfort and the symptoms of the condition, and home remedies have proven to be a rewarding treatment option for many people.
RLS is a neurological condition characterised by an irresistible urge to move the legs. To be diagnosed with RLS, you must suffer from four symptoms: an urge to move your legs that you are unable to resist, symptoms that become worse when you are at rest, symptoms that improve when you move your legs and symptoms that are worse in the evening, particularly when you are lying in bed. One of the chief complaints of RLS is that suffers have difficulty sleeping.
Researchers have limited understanding of what causes RLS, but some scientific studies indicate that it might be related to other diseases. Research indicates it is associated with anaemia, low iron levels, end-stage renal disease with dialysis and peripheral neuropathy. Attention Deficit Disorder might also be associated with RLS.
Leg movement helps reduce symptoms related to RLS. The most beneficial movement is physical exercise. The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation suggests engaging the legs in daily exercises and physical activity. You can also make adjustments to your daily routine by adding more tasks that require you to be on your feet. Some people elevate their desks so they can work while standing.
As well, the RLS Foundation suggests doing morning stretching and light massaging on the legs to relax the leg muscles. Baths also help to relax the leg muscles.
You also can reduce the symptoms of RLS through the brain. By simply focusing your life around activities that engage and relax the mind, you can take the focus away from leg discomfort. Relaxation techniques including meditation and yoga also prove useful in treating RLS.
In some cases, restless legs syndrome stems from an iron or vitamin deficiency. If so, you should change your diet or add supplements that allow you to overcome the deficiency. It could lead to relief from RLS, according to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. Do not take iron supplements unless you know they are needed. Before choosing to add a supplement, check with your doctor, who can test your blood's iron level.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen also treat mild symptoms of restless leg syndrome by reducing pain and discomfort. According to the Mayo Clinic, pain relievers also may relieve twitching and sensations in the legs.
Reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoke. Studies show they increase RLS and also make it difficult to sleep at night.
In addition to ingestible treatments, you can use hot pads and ice packs to treat the muscles in the legs. They can reduce the sensations in the limbs. Some people prefer to alternate between heat and cold.