While the exact numbers are not known it is thought that several million people lose sleep every night because of restless leg syndrome. The exact cause of this frustrating and painful condition is not exactly known but the majority of studies done point to some form of brain chemistry problem. For the people who suffer from it finding a restless leg syndrome treatment is at the forefront of their needs.
It is classified as a neurological disorder that causes a crawling or tingling sensation along the upper legs that makes those who suffer its effects feel an uncontrollable urge to get up and move around to find relief. The sensations are often described as if an insect or something is crawling just under the skin of the legs, along with burning and tugging sensations. These sensations can be merely annoying all the way to excruciating pain.
When it comes to a restless leg syndrome treatment there are two basic approaches; the natural holistic route or using over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications. They are both effective at relieving restless leg syndromes symptoms depending on the severity.
Natural Treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome
The primary symptom of needing to get up and walk around works for the majority of people who have this disorder. Unfortunately the symptoms most often appear in the evening or just as the person is falling asleep causing them to lose sleep and suffer many sleepless nights. For these people a more permanent treatment is needed.
People with mild to moderate symptoms are recommended to make certain lifestyle changes which are shown to help with the symptoms. Stopping the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine is the first recommendation followed by dietary changes that include supplements to offset deficiencies of iron folate and magnesium. In fact there is a growing consensus that an iron deficiency may be one of the causes of RLS.
Heat applied to the legs by taking a warm bath, using a heating pad or hot water bottle, or massaging a liniment such as Icy/Hot are all good ways to increase blood flow to the legs. Increased blood circulation to the affected areas provides soothing relief of the symptoms.
Prescription Drug Therapy for Restless Leg Syndrome
For those who experience more severe symptoms prescription drugs may provide levels of relief that the more natural therapies cannot match. Again, these only treat the symptoms as no known sure exists at this time. Four classes of drugs are currently used for the treatment of restless leg syndrome.
1. Dopaminergics Used primarily to treat Parkinson's disease, they increase the level of dopamine in the brain.
2. Benzodiazepines Works as a sedative on the central nervous system. Prescribed primarily to help RLS sufferers sleep through the night.
3. Opiates These drugs are used primarily to relieve pain and have been found to be effective in the treatment of restless leg syndrome.
4. Anticonvulsants A class of drugs that work by suppressing sensory disturbances and severe muscle spasms.
The first step to finding a restless leg syndrome treatment is visiting a doctor. By getting the right diagnosis a treatment regimen can be built that best treats the individual symptoms. Every person is different and what works for one may not work as well for someone else.