Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. It is less common but possible to have RLS symptoms in the arms, face, torso, and genital region. RLS typically happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you’re sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily. It can disrupt sleep, which interferes with daily activities.
It is estimated that up to 7-10 percent of the U.S. population may have RLS. RLS occurs in both men and women, although women are more likely to have it than men. It may begin at any age. Many individuals who are severely affected are middle-aged or older, and the symptoms typically become more frequent and last longer with age.
More than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience Periodic Limb Movement of Sleep (PLMS). PLMS is characterized by involuntary leg (and sometimes arm) twitching or jerking movements during sleep that typically occur every 15 to 40 seconds, sometimes throughout the night. Although many individuals with RLS also develop PLMS, most people with PLMS do not experience RLS.
Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome
You may have restless legs syndrome (RLS) if you have the following symptoms:
- You have a strong urge to move your legs (sometimes arms and trunk), usually accompanied or caused by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs.
- Your symptoms begin or become worse when you are resting or inactive, such as when lying down or sitting.
- Your symptoms get better when you move, such as when you walk or stretch, at least as long as the activity continues.
- Your symptoms are worse in the evening or night than during the day, or only occur in the evening or nighttime hours.
- Your symptoms are not solely accounted for by another condition such as leg cramps, positional discomfort, leg swelling or arthritis.
Iron deficiency is common among RLS sufferers and is correlated with restless leg syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and kidney diseases are correlated with RLS. Pregnancy related RLS typically occurs in the third trimester and usually resolves approximately one month after delivery. Several types of medications are linked to RLS including certain antiemetics, antipsychotics, antihistamines, and antidepressants.
Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome at the Yang Institute
The Yang Institute often uses acupuncture and herbs to alleviate restless legs syndrome for our patients. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, RLS is closely related to Zang-Fu organ imbalances, especially in the liver, heart, and kidneys. Treatment principles including balancing yin and yang, promoting qi and blood circulation, nourishing the spleen, dredging the sanjiao meridian, and regulating the du and ren channels.