Secondary Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease and it’s a condition in which your legs move involuntarily. You have a deep urge to move your legs all the time and this irresistible urge also spreads to the rest of your body and makes you move all your other limbs around. The restlessness may also get so bad that you can’t sleep because your limbs start moving more during periods of inactivity and you may feel the need to get up, move around, and engage in other activities. There are two types of restless leg syndrome — primary and secondary. Primary restless leg syndrome occurs without any underlying issue and usually happens because of genetic reasons. Secondary restless leg syndrome, however, is the type that always occurs because of an underlying disease or condition such as pregnancy, anemia, dopamine deficiency, chronic diseases, or chronic venous insufficiency. In this article, we discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments of secondary restless leg syndrome.

Symptoms of Secondary Restless Leg Syndrome

Secondary restless leg syndrome occurs because of some underlying disease or condition. As such, the condition of restless legs itself has some strong symptoms, but you also experience additional symptoms related to the disease that’s causing restless legs. So let’s look at both of them — direct symptoms of restless leg syndrome and possible accompanying symptoms of other diseases.

Direct Symptoms of RLS

  • Paresthesias or dysesthesias, i.e., uncomfortable sensations on the legs such as leg heaviness, frequent leg cramps, etc.
  • Itching, prickling, and burning feeling.
  • Inability to sleep because the restless legs get worse when you lie still.
  • Need to walk around and move your limbs constantly, even when you’re trying to sleep.
  • Periodic involuntary movements of ankles, toes, knees, or hips.
  • Rapid muscle jerks that happen often for no apparent reason.

Possible Accompanying Symptoms Caused by the Underlying Disease

  • Swollen ankles and feet.
  • Formation of spider veins and varicose veins on the legs. These are swollen blood vessels that either appear on the surface of your skin or bulge out of the skin.
  • Leg ulcers, i.e., non-healing or slow-healing wounds.
  • Deep vein thrombosis, i.e., the formation of blood clots inside the veins.

Causes of Secondary Restless Leg Syndrome

As mentioned previously, secondary restless leg syndrome is simply a side effect or symptom of a deeper underlying issue. The following are some of the potential causes of secondary restless leg syndrome.

  • Dopamine Deficiency: Basal Ganglia — the part of our brain that controls muscle activity — needs dopamine to function. Without it, you lose some control over your muscles and experience restless legs.
  • Anemia: This is a condition that leads to iron deficiency in your body. That, in turn, leads to dopamine deficiency as well, which causes you to lose control over your muscles.
  • Pregnancy: Your body goes through a number of physiological changes during pregnancy. For example, your hormones fluctuate considerably, your overall blood volume increases, and the uterus applies pressure on your vein walls. These factors make it almost inevitable that you’ll get restless legs during pregnancy, especially on your final trimester. In most cases, the restless legs will dissipate after birth, but if they don’t, you should consult a doctor.
  • Chronic Diseases: Kidney failure, Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, etc all contribute to restless leg syndrome to various extents.
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency: This is possibly the most common cause of secondary restless leg syndrome. Basically, this is a circulatory disorder in which the vein walls grow weak and the vein valves malfunction, which causes blood to pool in the lower leg veins. Over time as more blood accumulates in the lower legs, you suffer from restless legs.

Best Home Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

The following are some home treatments for restless legs syndrome. These treatments can’t treat restless legs completely, but they can help minimize some of the worst symptoms of restless legs and put you at ease.

Minimizing Restless Leg Symptoms

  • Stop consuming coffee or alcohol and stop smoking.
  • Sleep and wake up regularly at specific times.
  • Run, jog, cycle, or swim. Basically, engage in activities that activate your calf muscles and promote blood circulation in the legs.
  • Stretch your legs frequently.
  • Massage your restless legs when you feel the bouts of restlessness coming on.
  • Take a hot shower during periods of restlessness.
  • Keep your legs warm.
  • Use a hot or cold compressor on your restless legs.
  • Meditate.

Medications to Help with Restless Legs

In addition to following the aforementioned lifestyle tips, you can also consult your doctor and see if they can prescribe medications to calm you down such as dopamine agonists and dopamine supplements to minimize restless legs or sleep medications to help you go to sleep. However, you should only consume these medications after consulting a doctor.

Best Medical Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

The aforementioned tips and techniques can only help you temporarily minimize the worst effects of restless legs. As we’ve mentioned previously, restless legs are generally caused by an underlying disease. So you need to go to a doctor to identify the root cause of restless legs and then seek the appropriate treatment for it. Once you treat the underlying disease, the restless legs will automatically go away. For example, if your restless legs are caused by chronic venous insufficiency, your vein doctor can treat them with minimally invasive procedures like radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation, and venaseal.

Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome RLS at the Best Vein Clinic

Vein Treatment Clinic Houston is the best clinic where you can treat secondary restless leg syndrome, especially if it’s caused by vein disease. Our vein doctors only use minimally invasive procedures that are completely safe and work instantly. For further information, please schedule an appointment for restless leg syndrome diagnosis and treatment.

Summary

Restless Leg Syndrome is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease and it’s a condition in which your legs move involuntarily. You have a deep urge to move your legs all the time and this irresistible urge also spreads to the rest of your body and makes you move all your other limbs around. There are two types of restless leg syndrome — primary and secondary. Primary restless leg syndrome occurs without any underlying issue and usually happens because of genetic reasons. Secondary restless leg syndrome, however, is the type that always occurs because of an underlying disease or condition such as pregnancy, anemia, dopamine deficiency, chronic diseases, or chronic venous insufficiency. The only way to permanently treat secondary restless leg syndrome is to go to a doctor to identify the root cause of restless legs and then seek the appropriate treatment for it. Once you treat the underlying disease, the restless legs will automatically go away. For example, if your restless legs are caused by chronic venous insufficiency, your vein doctor can treat them with minimally invasive procedures like radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation, and venaseal. Vein Treatment Clinic Houston is the best clinic where you can treat secondary restless leg syndrome, especially if it’s caused by vein disease. For further information, please schedule an appointment for restless leg syndrome diagnosis and treatment.