Does this happen to you? You lie down to sleep at night, but you start to feel this creeping, uncomfortable sensation in your legs. It’s almost like something is moving up and down your leg. The only way to stop the sensation is to move your legs, so you toss, turn, and rub your legs together throughout the night, hoping that, eventually, the feeling will go away. Unfortunately, this feeling isn’t an illusion. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease is a neurological disorder that causes uncomfortable feelings in your lower body when you’re resting. It most often occurs when people are sleeping, but it can also happen if you’ve been sitting or standing for long periods. It typically starts later in the day or at night for most people.
RLS sounds like a minor condition, but it’s very serious. It can severely impact sleep. Estimates suggest that between 7-10% of the US population deal with RLS, which can begin at any age for both males and females. However, doctors typically see more female patients with RLS. The condition tends to get worse as a person ages, and there is currently no cure.
What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
Doctors are still unsure what exactly causes RLS. However, we know that RLS tends to run in families or people with low iron levels in their brains. Some theories suggest it may also be a dysfunction in the part of the brain that controls movement. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to RLS, but we do know that you may be more prone to developing RLS if you:
- Have renal disease
- Have have nerve damage
- Have sleep conditions like sleep apnea
- Suffer from sleep deprivation
- Are pregnant
- Use alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine, especially before bed
- Take some medications that cause RLS symptoms, like anti-nausea drugs, anti-depressants, cold and allergy medications, and some antihistamines
How is restless leg syndrome connected to your vein health?
Even though we don’t know what causes RLS, studies show a strong connection between RLS and vein health issues like venous insufficiency. Some research suggests that 22% of people with RLS also have venous insufficiency issues. Studies have also shown that patients with RLS symptoms and varicose veins often experience a significant decrease in their RLS symptoms after vein treatment.
Here are some long-standing studies that show the reduction of RLS symptoms after vein treatment.
- A 1995 study in the Dermatological Surgery journey reported that out of 113 patients with RLS treated for vein health problems using sclerotherapy, 98% reported significant relief from their RLS symptoms after sclerotherapy treatment.
- A 2008 study from the Phlebology Journal also confirmed that endovenous laser ablation treatment provided significant relief of RLS symptoms for patients treated for venous insufficiency.
- Similarly, a 2007 study from Phlebology studied 63 people diagnosed with RLS. All of the patients were subsequently diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency as well.
These findings, and many more, show a connection between RLS and venous insufficiency. It may be that the symptoms of venous insufficiency mimic RLS, or it may be that the way venous insufficiency causes blood flow issues in your lower body cause RLS. While research hasn’t proven that RLS and venous insufficiency are definitively connected, we know that patients with RLS and venous insufficiency find relief using vein treatments.
What do I do if I think my RLS is connected to venous insufficiency?
If you think your RLS symptoms may be connected to your vein health, book a consultation with our clinic. Our doctors will listen to your account of your symptoms and perform a thorough examination. They’ll start with a surface exam of your legs and look for any apparent signs of venous insufficiency like varicose or spider veins. Then they’ll perform an ultrasound examination to see if vein issues have presented beneath your skin. Finally, using the findings of their analysis, our doctors will recommend a course of treatment for your vein health issues. Some of our treatments include sclerotherapy or endovenous laser ablation. These treatments will correct your vein issues and may offer some relief from your RLS symptoms.
We don’t know that RLS can be treated with vein treatments, but we have seen many patients experience significant improvements after their treatment. Regardless, seeking treatment for your vein health issues is a good choice. If left untreated venous insufficiency issues like varicose or spider veins will only worsen over time and cause you more discomfort and pain. So seeking treatment is always a good idea if you have vein health problems!