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This is a condition affecting the nerves that results in an urge to move the legs. It can be very distressing and tends to be worse at night. A sensation of various symptoms of burning, aching, cramps, pulsating and swelling of the legs is often described. The condition is more common in women and affects about 10% of the population at some stage of their lives.

Causes

A lot of the time there is no obvious cause for restless leg syndrome. Nerve function, salt imbalance and pregnancy are often associated however.

Many of the symptoms of restless leg syndrome are similar to those experienced by patients who suffer from varicose veins. Therefore it is very important during the initial assessment to take a look at the leg veins of the patient. If weak veins are found we can then treat with endovenous laser ablation. We will use a duplex ultrasound at this point to ascertain any vein issues.

Coping with a restless leg syndrome episode

If you are experiencing an episode of restless leg syndrome it may help to take the following measures:

  • Leg massage. Massaging the legs can help with the flow of blood and ease pain and encourages movement
  • An evening shower – hot or cold. Having a shower before going to bed opens up the veins in the body and could make sleep easier
  • Exercise such as yoga or tai chi, walking and stretching. Any exercise is obviously good for you and these simple, yet very effective, techniques ensure that the veins are doing their job in a positive manner

Treatment

Restless leg syndrome can be managed whether there is a vein-related cause or not. If that is the case then it can be treated by the wearing of compression stockings or further treatment on the weak refluxing internal veins. These veins may not always be visible on the surface of the leg but can be seen during the duplex ultrasound.

If the restless leg syndrome is milder and not linked to any underlying health condition then it can be managed with just a few minor lifestyle changes. These may include daily exercise (although avoiding exercise before bed) and avoiding stimulants such as coffee, nicotine and alcohol.

Severe cases can be treated with medication but patients should always seek out a health professional before considering any drug treatment.

Treatments for this condition: