Help for Restless Legs

Restless legs are typically the result of restless leg syndrome, which can usually be identified by a crawling, creeping, or unpleasant itching sensation in the legs that is relieved only by moving the legs. This uncontrollable urge can occur in other parts of the body, but is most common in the legs. It typically occurs at night, when lying down to go to sleep, or when resting during the day. In many cases, restless legs are a mild annoyance that has minimal impact on quality of life — but for those with more severe cases, it can affect sleep and daytime productivity.  Restless leg syndrome treatment can involve several approaches. These include addressing underlying conditions, making lifestyle changes, and taking prescription medication. Depending on the severity and cause of your restless legs, a different set of treatments may be required.

Non-pharmaceutical help for restless legs

Restless leg syndrome is usually a lifelong condition that may worsen with age.[1] Fortunately, there are many ways to find help for restless legs that don’t involve the use of prescription medication.[2]

At-home treatment typically involves addressing underlying conditions; the use of relaxation techniques; lifestyle changes; and the use of a foot wrap. In many cases, restless legs are the result of an iron deficiency, in which case the use of iron supplements or intravenous iron may eradicate or reduce the symptoms.[3]

Many have found that massaging the legs and taking hot baths can be helpful, particularly before bed. These techniques relax the muscles and can reduce the urge for movement.[4] Others have found that implementing regular exercise and good sleep hygiene into their lives can reduce the effects of restless legs. Additionally, reducing or eradicating caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine consumption can help minimize restless leg syndrome symptoms.

Another option for at-home treatments is the use of an FDA-approved foot wrap. This wrap works by applying mechanical pressure to the foot or leg when relaxing, and can be used to treat moderate to severe restless legs.[5] 

Prescription medication treatments

There are a variety of medications that can be used to treat severe restless leg syndrome. Keep in mind that medications may be helpful for some and not for others, so you may have to try several different ones in order to find the one that works for you. Four common types of medications that can provide help for restless legs are dopaminergic agents, anti-convulsants, benzodiazepines, and opioids.[6]

Dopaminergic agents, which are also used for Parkinson’s disease, are effective in approximately 90 percent of restless leg syndrome patients.[7] Unfortunately, long-term use may result in augmentation or a worsening of symptoms. Anti-convulsants are often the go-to treatment for restless legs, as they are thought to have lower chance of augmentation than dopaminergic agents.[8]

Benzodiazepines and opioids are both relatively effective in treating restless leg syndrome, but carry a high risk of addiction.[9] Benzodiazepines are more effective for milder cases of restless leg syndrome, but may also be habit-forming.

FAQs

Can CBD oil help for restless leg syndrome?

CBD oil has been known to relax patients with restless leg syndrome, allowing them to have a calmer sleep. However, there is not enough conclusive evidence or studies to indicate whether CBD oil or other CBD sleep products, such as CBD sleep spray or CBD sleep gummies, can provide help for restless legs.

How do you sleep with restless leg syndrome?

Creating a healthy sleep routine and a restful, calming sleep environment can make sleeping with restless leg syndrome easier.[10] In addition to consistent sleep schedules and sleep hygiene, getting regular exercise and avoiding the use of stimulants can ease sleeping.

What causes restless leg syndrome? 

Restless leg causes are ultimately unknown. In many cases, it is thought to be the result of an iron deficiency or other underlying condition. There may also be a genetic risk factor for those who develop restless leg syndrome in childhood or early in life.

Do compression socks help with restless legs?

Compression socks are thought to help with varicose veins, which can be a cause of restless legs. However, there is no evidence that compression socks help with the signs of restless leg syndrome or greatly improve symptoms.[11]

Master Sources List for Restless Leg Syndrome

[1]https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Restless-Legs-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet#5

[2] https://www.epda.eu.com/about-parkinsons/symptoms/motor-symptoms/restless-legs-syndrome/

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377174

[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377174

[5] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/reviews/DEN110009.pdf

[6] https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/11926/restless-legs-syndrome

[7]https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/restless-legs-syndrome/what-is-rls/treatment.html

[8]https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Restless-Legs-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet#5

[9] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377174

[10] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377174#:~:text=Ideally%2C%20have%20a%20cool%2C%20quiet,Avoid%20caffeine

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115373/

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