NCTV Episode 45
Continuing with the series of bitesize health tip videos which can be found here on my YouTube Channel, this episode, includes:-
- What Restless Leg is / why it occurs / who gets it
- What you can do to help Restless Leg
- Lifestyle changes to ease the symptoms
- Ways to gain immediate relief during an attack
- Michael Flatley
If you’d prefer to read the content within, rather than watch the video, then feel free to read the transcript, as follows:-
Hello and welcome to NCTV Episode 45 which is all about Restless Leg Syndrome and what you can do to help it.
So if you’re someone who, when it comes time to settling down in the evening and putting your feet up, you start experiencing a crawling sensation up your legs and an irresistible urge to become Michael Flatly and perform a marathon tap-dance, then the chances are, you have what is known as Willis-Ekbom disease, more commonly known as Restless Leg Syndrome.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t actually a problem with your legs, more a condition of your nervous system, originating in the brain. The majority of the time there may be no known cause although it does have a tendency to run in families and women are twice as more likely to get it than men, especially if you’re middle aged. What can be said is that some neurologists believe the symptoms may be linked to how the body handles the chemical dopamine. The reason being – Dopamine is involved in controlling muscle movement and may be responsible for the involuntary leg movements associated with restless legs syndrome.
In some cases, restless leg is a secondary problem caused by an underlying health condition, such as iron deficiency anaemia or kidney failure.
There is also a link between restless leg and pregnancy with around 1 in 5 women experiencing it in the last 3 months of pregnancy. It’s not clear as to why that is, but it will usually it disappears after childbirth in any case.
In terms of the symptoms, these can vary from mild to severe and as mentioned they consist of an overwhelming urge to move the legs. The creeping, burning or cramping sensations tend to occur in the feet, calves and thighs although occasionally this can happen in the arms too. It also occurs mostly in the evening or at night, some people only get it occasionally but others can experience this every day. If you’re lucky enough to actually get to sleep with restless leg, in 80% of sufferers it’s also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, so anyone within arms-reach, beware!
The outlook for restless leg can be good with the disappearance of symptoms, if the underlying cause is addressed. However, if the cause is unidentifiable then the symptoms can get worse with time, and whilst it’s not life threatening, in severe cases this can disrupt sleep, causing insomnia and trigger anxiety and depression.
So finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for, what can you do about it. Well if your restless leg isn’t linked to an underlying health condition, it can be managed with a few lifestyle changes. If it is caused by an underlying health condition such as iron deficiency anaemia then this can be treated by taking iron supplements for example.
More on the lifestyle changes now and the following have been found to be effective ways of easing the symptoms:-
- Avoid stimulants in the evening such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Regular daily exercise – but not before bed
- Creating good sleep habits such going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, not napping during the day and taking time to relax before going to bed
- Avoiding the medicines that trigger the symptoms or make them worse but be sure to speak to your GP about it first
When you actually get an attack of restless leg, here are some ways you can help relieve the symptoms:-
- Massage the legs
- Take a hot bath in the evening
- Apply a hot or cold compress to your legs
- Try doing an activity that distracts your mind like reading
- Perform relaxation exercises such as yoga or tai chi
- Walking and stretching can be helpful
Moreover, if the need to see the doctor arises then they may prescribe dopamine agonists or pain killers.
There are also some supplements that can be helpful in the form of B vitamins such as folate, folic acid and B12. Folic acid can also be boosted naturally with certain foods like peanuts, lentils beans and spinach and this can help improve blood circulation. Calcium and magnesium are other minerals that aid in the functioning of muscles and nerves so you may find these helpful too although if you don’t notice an improvement after 2 or 3 months then the chances are, they’re probably not going to help. Keep in mind that what works for some, doesn’t always work for others and vice versa.
So hopefully some or all of those tricks will come in handy in the battle against restless leg, if one doesn’t work for you then simply move on to the next, afterall, anything that has been known to relieve symptoms is worth trying.
There you have for today’s bitesize bit to help your health flourish. Bye for now.