Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease (WED), is a common sleep-related movement disorder characterized by an unpleasant urge to move the legs. Symptoms often occur during periods of inactivity; particularly in the evenings. This urge to move is sometimes relieved by moving ones legs. During sleep, most patients’ limb movements, called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS), can wake the person from sleep. Common symptoms of restless leg include: need to move, a sensation of crawling, tingling, restless, leg cramping, leg pain, leg discomfort, and leg itching. (Similar terms have been used when patients describe symptoms associated with venous disease or varicose veins.)
Cause of Restless Leg Syndrome
The cause of restless legs syndrome remains poorly understood. Some studies have identified nervous system abnormalities in patients with the disorder. The most common conditions associated with RLS include: iron deficiency, renal failure, neuropathy, spinal cord issues, pregnancy, and multiple sclerosis. Antihistamines, antipsychotic medications, and many anti-nausea medications, and certain antidepressants can make symptoms of RLS worse.
Varicose Veins and Restless Leg Syndrome
The importance of discussing restless leg syndrome on a lower extremity vascular website is that there are conditions which mimic restless leg syndrome. Venous insufficiency, which mimics symptoms of restless leg syndrome, also exacerbates (worsens) symptoms of true RLS.
Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome
Currently a curative treatment does not exist for restless leg syndrome. There are certain medications on the market intended to minimize or mask symptoms. However, if you have symptoms of night leg cramps, numbness, burning, leg fatigue, leg heaviness, and/or ankle swelling, you may have venous disease. Venous insufficiency is managed with in office procedures. Symptoms improve quickly after intervention, and the majority of activities can be resumed within hours.
The best way to rule out Venous Disease for Restless Leg Syndrome is to come in for an Ultrasound Exam and Consultation. If you find your discomfort is being caused by venous insufficiency, you'll be extremely glad that you did come in...if not....there's one more thing that can be ruled out!