Restless Legs Syndrome

Something I have suffered with, for as far back as I can remember is restless legs syndrome. Even when I was much younger, my legs would be fidgety and hurt at night. It is one of those things that unless you have experienced it, you have absolutely no idea of just how irritating and how painful it can be sometimes. There have been times where I could quite easily have hacked my legs off!

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What is restless legs syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. Sometimes it is caused by conditions such as anaemia or kidney failure, or is a side effect of some medication. Many women find that  they suffer from it whilst they are pregnant, but then it (thankfully!) goes soon after the birth. In some cases, such as mine, it is just one of those things. It can be heredity – which is interesting because my dad also suffers with it from time to time.

Everyone experiences it differently. It affects me in two ways:

  1. Later on an evening, when I’m beginning to get tired, I get the urge to stretch my legs as far as possible, almost beyond what they can do. Even when I’ve stretched them, the feeling doesn’t go away. It is almost painful at times. I know when I need to go bed because I start fidgeting and can never get comfortable. I also get this feeling when I’m sitting in a confined space, such as at the cinema or on public transport.
  2. In bed, as well as the need to stretch, I get a sort of ‘crawling’ feeling in my legs. It is almost like something is inside my leg and crawling up. It can also feel like my legs are throbbing. It’s worse just before I’m dropping off, but even when I’m asleep I’m kicking my legs about. I am an absolute nightmare to share a bed with when I’m having a bout of it!

It doesn’t affect me every night. I can go weeks, even months without a single episode of it, and then it can happen every night for ages. I’m writing this now because I’m going through a phase of it happening every night. It affects my sleep because I’m kicking about and fidgeting, and my legs often feel sore in the morning.

What causes it?

As I mentioned above, there can be specific things that can cause or trigger episodes of restless legs syndrome. I’ve been to the doctors to rule out anything that may be causing it, and for me, it’s just one of those things. I don’t help myself at times – being overweight and drinking quite a lot of caffeine probably doesn’t help it – but that isn’t what causes it. I suffered from it when I was young, slim and before the coffee addiction took hold. For a few years my iron levels were only just above anaemic, which can be a cause of it, but that seems to have evened out since I have had Benjamin.

Treatments

A lot of it is down to lifestyle changes. It is advised to cut down on caffeine consumption  (which I have done, particularly in the evenings) and alcohol. Gentle exercise, warm baths and massages can also help. In some severe cases, doctors can prescribe medication, but as it acts like a sedative, it is something that I have so far managed to avoid.

Have you ever suffered with RLS? What has helped to ease the symptoms for you?

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4 thoughts on “Restless Legs Syndrome

  1. I probably only get it once every few months, It normally comes on a few days after a long run or if i’ve been standing too much. It feels as though they’ve gotten used to being active and I just can’t switch them off.
    Normally I kick my legs abit, stretch my toes out and place a pillow either underneath my knees or inbetween them and lie on my side. – Helps me.

    Amy|PurelyAmy

  2. I also get this. It just comes and goes like you I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I think it’s because I’ve sat down all day, or I’ve stood all day long! I always seem to get it when I’m out and can’t move my legs so I never go to the cinema, I’d fidget too much. I am lucky though, going to bed seems to stop it. If I raise my legs on a footstool it stays there but if I go to bed I’m ok. So some nights I’m in bed by 9pm because I have restless legs. Wish there was a simple cure! I don’t drink any caffeine although I used to so its not that.

  3. Mine is much worse when I have been at work all day, on my feet on concrete floors walking upwards of 15 miles in a shift, like you say my muscles are overworked and cannot switch off. I have tried a folded quilt under my legs to elevate them and then sleep on my back, does not stop them jumping but does help with the cramps.
    Dont do caffeine or alcohol and dont have access to a bath sadly.
    I honestly some nights could sit and cry as I am that tired with it keeping me awake.
    Got some stretching exercises from the GP to do before bed so will see how they go. Like you I have been tested for deficiencies and the likes but all tests came back normal.

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