Restless Legs Syndrome is Very Real!

Restless Legs Syndrome, or RLS, is defined by the Mayo Clinic as follows: "

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. It typically happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you're sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.

Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, can begin at any age and generally worsens as you age. It can disrupt sleep, which interferes with daily activities."

If this is you, read on. 

My Story

When I was a kid about 3 or 4 years old, I had to sleep on my stomach and kick one of my legs over and over to get to sleep. At the time my parents called it "leg aches" and said it was from growing pains. As I grew older I don't recall it being a problem until my late teens. My mother told me it was "jumpy legs" and that she had it all her life. She said there was nothing I could do aside from maybe exercise or a warm bath. So I went to my doctor and he told me, "it's all in your mind, stop thinking about it" Of course this was forty years ago. Now it is a recognized neurological disorder, treated by a multitude of drugs. How well those drugs work seems to vary from person to person. 

RLS also appears to be related to or accompany the following factors or underlying conditions:

  • end-stage renal disease and hemodialysis
  • iron deficiency
  • certain medications that may aggravate RLS symptoms, such as antinausea drugs (e.g. prochlorperazine or metoclopramide), antipsychotic drugs (e.g., haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), antidepressants that increase serotonin (e.g., fluoxetine or sertraline), and some cold and allergy medications that contain older antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine)
  • use of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine
  • pregnancy, especially in the last trimester; in most cases, symptoms usually disappear within 4 weeks after delivery
  • neuropathy (nerve damage).

Sleep deprivation and other sleep conditions like sleep apnea also may aggravate or trigger symptoms in some people.  Reducing or completely eliminating these factors may relieve symptoms.

For me, the drug that worked was pramipexole. The National Institute of Health describes this category as follows: 

"

Dopaminergic agents.  These drugs, which increase dopamine effect, are largely used to treat Parkinson's disease.  They have been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS when they are taken at nighttime.  The FDA has approved ropinirole, pramipexole, and rotigotine to treat moderate to severe RLS.  These drugs are generally well tolerated but can cause nausea, dizziness, or other short-term side effects.  Levodopa plus carbidopa may be effective when used intermittently, but not daily.

Although dopamine-related medications are effective in managing RLS symptoms, long-term use can lead to worsening of the symptoms in many individuals.  With chronic use, a person may begin to experience symptoms earlier in the evening or even earlier until the symptoms are present around the clock.  Over time, the initial evening or bedtime dose can become less effective, the symptoms at night become more intense, and symptoms could begin to affect the arms or trunk.  Fortunately, this apparent progression can be reversed by removing the person from all dopamine-related medications. 

Another important adverse effect of dopamine medications that occurs in some people is the development of impulsive or obsessive behaviors such as obsessive gambling or shopping.  Should they occur, these behaviors can be improved or reversed by stopping the medication."

Well that's not good but trust me, when you have RLS and have slept about 4 hours over a weeks time, you will take the drug. Sleep deprivation is used as torture and I now know why. So one day I did a search for natural RLS treatments. A product came up called Restful Legs, from Hyland Homeopathics. I had nothing to lose so I ordered a bottle. Within a week I had cut my usage of pramipexole by half! I am hoping to be drug free soon, and will let you know the final outcome. I have always been a fan of homeopathic medicines. They are real, OTC medicines and are recognized as such by the FDA as they are required to prove their efficacy just like prescription drugs. Thus our ability to make medical therapeutic claims for them. The bottom line is it worked for me. If you or someone you love suffers from RLS, try it out. You have nothing to lose except loss of sleep!

Resource: Hylands Homeopathics Restful Legs

 

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