Treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome can be a literal pain.
Get relief with our ultimate list of science-backed restless leg syndrome treatments.
- What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
- Exercises for Restless Leg Syndrome
- Treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome
- Yoga for Restless Leg Syndrome
At least 7 to 10% of the US population has Restless Leg Syndrome.
If you're one of those people living with Restless Leg Syndrome (known commonly in the medical community as RLS), then you know how long and seemingly endless days can be.
The tingling sensation, the ache in your legs, and frequent sleep disruptions can leave you exhausted by day's end, making seeking treatment a priority. With the exact causes unknown, the condition is believed to be caused by a disruption in the brain's dopamine production or even low levels of iron in the brain.
Luckily, various Restless Leg Syndrome treatment options have been proven to relieve RLS symptoms and help improve the overall quality of life. This quick guide will discuss options that might help minimize discomfort and relieve you from this condition.
Rest assured, we've taken care to provide you with only the best, well-researched Restless Leg Syndrome treatment options. All options listed in this guide are treatment methods backed by scientific studies and medical research proving their effectiveness. Read on to learn your options and how best to find relief from RLS.
Restless Leg Syndrome Home Remedies
What's the most effective treatment for restless legs? What helps Restless Leg Syndrome without medication? It depends.
However, home remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome provide a practical and effective way to alleviate symptoms. These remedies complement conventional medicine and can be used as a standalone treatment for those with mild cases. However, consult your doctor before attempting any of these methods.
Stretches and Exercises
One study found that certain stretches and exercises can help ease symptoms of RLS. It found that, after eight weeks, the "symptom severity of this syndrome meaningfully changed."
What kinds of stretches and exercises are best, though?
It ultimately depends on the severity of your symptoms and your comfort level. Simple muscle exercises such as flexing, pointing, and stretching can alleviate discomfort and soothe the nerves. Low-impact exercises like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi can also help with relaxation and promote a calm mental state.
However, most of the recommended exercises are safe and easy to do and can be integrated into daily routines. Start slowly and focus on loosening the muscles and promoting blood flow throughout your legs. Be patient as you wait to see relief for restless legs; remember, the study showed improvement after about eight weeks.
Research suggests that certain massages can help as a natural Restless Leg Syndrome treatment. Science Direct published a study that showed the following massages were particularly helpful in helping relieve symptoms of the group's female participants:
- Myofascial release massages
- Trigger point therapy
- Deep tissue massages
- Sports massage
In the 45-minute massages, specialists focused on the piriformis and hamstring muscles. In general, massages help slow down the heart rate, decrease anxiety, and reduce muscle tension. These are all factors that contribute to RLS symptoms.
Whether the massages help relieve restless legs at night or alleviate other symptoms, they can help you experience better sleep, calmness, and relaxation.
As you speak with a professional massage therapist, consider asking how acupuncture could help. It's one of the most natural RLS remedies available, relatively quick and simple. In fact, one study found that acupuncture (along with a low dose of gabapentin) helped provide relief for Restless Leg Syndrome in the eight weeks following the treatment.
What happens during this type of treatment, though? Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that uses thin needles to restore balance in the body. Acupuncture points on the legs, feet, and hands can be targeted to ease RLS symptoms.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga increases flexibility, strengthens the muscles, and improves circulation, which can reduce RLS symptoms. Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that yoga helped improve sleep quality and mood in RLS patients.
Various poses are especially beneficial for RLS symptoms, though. The Vipariti Karani pose is a simple post most people can do. Put your feet on the wall and scoot your bottom down to touch the wall. Leave your feet there for about 15 to 20 minutes to allow blood to flow back down.
Those with more flexibility can try the ever-popular child's pose or Janu Sirsasana. The latter requires you to sit on the floor and slowly extend your arms to touch your toes with your leg extended to one side. Hold the stretch for about five to ten breaths and move to the other leg.
Similarly, meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, common triggers for RLS symptoms. Meditation can also help you achieve a mindful state, which is helpful as you navigate the emotional and physical issues that arise as you navigate RLS and its symptoms.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapies work wonders for most physical ailments. However, alternating hot and cold therapy can be especially helpful as you reap the benefits of each therapy.
Heat therapies such as warm baths, a heating pad for restless legs, or hot water bottles can increase blood flow and ease muscle tension. Similarly, applying cold compresses or ice packs can numb the muscles and reduce discomfort. Add heat or ice to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, repeating the process as needed.
A combination of both heat and cold therapies can provide optimal effects for those experiencing RLS. However, consult a physician if hot or cold therapies worsen the symptoms. Always remember not to apply things that are too warm or too cold. It shouldn't feel uncomfortable or painful.
Additionally, it's important to ensure you have high-quality hot and cold therapy products. They'll help you maximize your efforts and enjoy Restless Leg Syndrome relief at home.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves placing electrodes on the skin near the affected area to stimulate the nerves. TENS therapy can provide relief to those with Restless Leg Syndrome by sending pulses through your skin.
These non-painful electrical pulses can block the pain signals transmitted to the brain and produce a tingling or massage-like sensation that numbs the muscles and reduces the discomfort caused by Restless Leg Syndrome. The therapy is non-invasive, drug-free, and can be administered at home.
However, ensure you have a good TENS unit for restless legs for the therapy for Restless Leg Syndrome to be effective (and safe!).
Compression therapy, such as compression socks or leg wraps, can be a practical solution to reduce symptoms associated with RLS. Compression therapy works by applying light pressure to the legs, reducing inflammation, and promoting circulation.
For example, you can wear compression socks during the day and use tighter leg wraps at night. It's important to consult a doctor before trying compression therapy. They can suggest the ideal pressure and duration for wearing the socks or wraps and other treatments to relieve RLS symptoms.
If you plan on wrapping your legs, use high-quality, durable kinesiology tape products. Don't use just any tape you have. Kinesiology tape is specifically designed for use in situations like sports and physical therapy. It won't hurt and (usually) doesn't irritate your skin.
Haven't had success with Restless Leg Syndrome remedies at home? You might look into vein treatment.
Sclerotherapy is a straightforward medical procedure used to treat unsightly or swollen veins. It involves injecting a special solution directly into the affected veins, which helps shrink them and reroute blood flow to healthier veins. This treatment is commonly used to reduce varicose and spider veins. However, it's also considered a great Restless Leg Syndrome treatment.
How does it help? It's been shown to help reduce symptoms of venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is a circulation disorder where blood in the legs does not flow properly toward the heart, causing a buildup of pressure and pain.
When sclerotherapy is given to treat venous insufficiency, it can help improve blood circulation. This reduces the amount of pressure and pain.
If medical treatments aren't your thing, here's another great home remedy: put your feet up! Elevating the legs is an easy and effective way to ease symptoms. It's a great, free OTC treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome.
Raising your legs to a higher level than your heart improves blood flow. This can help reduce inflammation and the feeling of "pins and needles" in the legs. It can also reduce the strain on the legs, helping prevent muscle fatigue and discomfort, which can make RLS worse.
For sleeping, leg wedge pillows can prop the feet up at an elevated position. These pillows are comfortable and specially designed to support the legs and feet properly during sleep, reducing RLS symptoms and providing restful and uninterrupted sleep.
Neurofeedback is a type of treatment that uses a computer to help people understand and regulate their brainwaves. In people with Restless Leg Syndrome, neurofeedback studies can help them learn how their brainwaves affect their symptoms. The goal is to arm yourself with the knowledge to reduce symptoms.
The treatment involves placing sensors on the scalp and using a computer to monitor electrical activity in the brain. The feedback from the computer can help people learn how to regulate their brainwaves, leading to reduced symptoms of RLS. Furthermore, the study linked above used neurofeedback to treat the condition and symptoms (not just learn more about it).
Though more research is needed on its effectiveness, it is a non-invasive and safe treatment option that can be used to manage the syndrome's symptoms.
Finally, we have one more standout Restless Leg Syndrome treatment option that's easy to do at home. It's aromatherapy, the best Restless Leg Syndrome natural treatment. It uses essential oils from plants to help improve physical and emotional health. Certain oils may reduce stress and promote relaxation.
You can apply these essential oils to the skin. You can also inhale them using a diffuser. Examples of oils that may help with RLS symptoms include lavender, chamomile, and cypress. This study revealed positive results when using lavender oil. However, all the oils have soothing properties that can help reduce the sensations that cause RLS discomfort.
Restless Leg Syndrome Relief with Lifestyle Changes
It's not just about finding the right restless leg treatments or home remedies. You also need to ensure you're optimizing your lifestyle to support relief. Because lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking can contribute to the risk of developing RLS, making healthy changes in habits can play a big part in reducing symptoms.
For example, there are vitamins for restless legs and foods that can help you feel better. Follow along as we explore lifestyle changes that can help manage RLS symptoms and enhance overall well-being.
Healthy Sleep Habits
Poor sleep habits can increase Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms, such as constant leg movement and difficulty sleeping.
To improve sleep quality, incorporate a regular bedtime routine and aim to sleep for at least eight hours each night. Avoid electronics one hour before bedtime, affecting your body's sleep. Taking a warm bath before bed or applying heat packs to the legs can help ease muscle tension and reduce RLS discomfort.
Lastly, try sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillows to help soothe and ease leg pain, which can help you get a better night's sleep. If you need more tips, check out our helpful guide to sleeping better.
What foods help with Restless Leg Syndrome? Can a vitamin for restless legs provide relief? Healthline reports that it's best to add more of the following vitamins and minerals to your diet:
You can get these from leafy, green vegetables, iron-fortified cereals and bread, or fish, nuts, and beans. Dried beans and legumes are the best options for consuming magnesium.
Regarding what to avoid, it's best to avoid the following foods:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Foods high in sugar
This includes fast food, packaged food, and anything fried, such as fried chicken or French fries. As a general rule of thumb, it's best to avoid sugary sodas and sweets as much as possible. If you need sugar, get it from natural fruits.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Did you know that RLS occurs in 22% of patients detoxifying from alcohol? This means that alcohol can directly impact your RLS symptoms. In some cases, both caffeine and alcohol can worsen symptoms.
Therefore, limiting the consumption of alcohol and caffeine is generally recommended as part of managing RLS. For overall health, it's best to avoid caffeine and alcohol anyway. They don't do much for your health.
Medication for Restless Leg Syndrome
Several medications can help manage RLS symptoms, but some can worsen the condition. Opioids, some antidepressants, and antihistamines are known to exacerbate RLS symptoms. On the other hand, certain medications can help relieve RLS symptoms.
The FDA has approved medications such as the following to manage moderate to severe RLS:
These drugs work by stimulating dopamine receptors, reducing the unpleasant sensations in the legs that contribute to RLS. If you think medication is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider about the options. As you can see, they're one of many Restless Leg Syndrome treatments.
Find Relief with Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment
In conclusion, Restless Leg Syndrome can impact your daily life. However, various Restless Leg Syndrome treatment options are available to manage symptoms and enhance overall well-being. And one thing's certain: you deserve Restless Legs Syndrome relief.
Not all treatment options require medical intervention, either. By incorporating healthy lifestyle habits and exploring treatment options, you can help alleviate symptoms. You can also learn about other treatment options by exploring RLS forums to hear from others.
We encourage readers to share their experience with RLS and any treatment options that have helped them manage their symptoms below. Leave a comment to let us know what's worked for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with a healthcare provider.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.