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Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, causes a strong urge to move your legs when resting. It can also cause strange sensations like itching, crawling, pulling, or throbbing. Although there’s no cure for RLS, there are treatments that can help.
If you’re interested in learning about RLS, here’s everything you need to know about the condition, what causes restless leg syndrome to flare up, and how to prevent it.

What are the Types of Restless Leg Syndrome?

There are two types of restless leg syndrome:

  • Early onset: This type of restless leg syndrome starts before the age of 45. It often has a family history and tends to worsen slowly over time.
  • Late onset: This type starts after the age of 45 and usually gets worse faster than early onset RLS.

How Common is the Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome affects around 7-10% of the US population. It is more common in white people and women. It is more likely to occur as you become older.

What are the Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

The following are the symptoms of restless leg syndrome:

  • The urge to move your legs because of uncomfortable sensations.
  • The sensations worsen when you are resting.
  • You might feel some relief for a while when you move your legs.
  • Your legs might twitch or jerk in the evening or while sleeping.

These symptoms can also have an effect on your sleep and lead to the following:

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • A need to get out of bed to stretch or move your legs.
  • Feeling tired or sleeping during the day.
  • Mood swings.
  • Feeling depressed or anxious.
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering things, or concentrating.

What Can Flare Up Restless Leg Syndrome?

There are a number of triggers that cause restless leg syndrome to flare up. These triggers vary from person to person, but some of the common ones are:

  1. Caffeine
    Since caffeine is a stimulant, having your tea/coffee just before bedtime can keep you awake and trigger RLS.
  2. Iron Deficiencies
    Studies have shown that low iron levels are connected to restless leg syndrome and can also lead to disturbed sleep.
  3. B12 and Magnesium Deficiencies
    Not having enough vitamin B12 and magnesium can also cause restless leg syndrome to flare up.
  4. Alcohol
    It can disrupt your sleep patterns, triggering restless leg syndrome episodes.
  5. Pregnancy
    It is common to have temporary restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.
  6. Sitting Still
    Sitting still in the same position for a long time, like on long flights, can cause restless leg syndrome to flare up. But not just that, even long hours at work or lounging on the couch for a movie marathon can lead to flare-ups.

What Immediately Helps with Restless Leg Syndrome?

As mentioned earlier in the blog, there’s no cure for RLS yet. However, some things can offer immediate relief from restless leg syndrome, such as:

  • Walking.
  • Stretching.
  • Massaging legs.
  • Improving the quality of sleep.
  • Taking hot baths.
  • Exercising more.
  • Using compression devices.

In Summary

Restless leg syndrome makes it hard to relax or sleep, especially at night. But once you understand what causes restless leg syndrome to flare up and how to prevent it, you can find some relief.

If you have any other questions about the syndrome, feel free to contact the Memorial Cardiology Associates team. We’re here to help!

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