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Restless Leg Syndrome: Causes and Treatment

Updated on July 1, 2014

What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition which can affect both men and women. RLS is described as an urgent need to move the legs; legs feeling extremely restless. It feels as if you must move your legs, almost to the point of your legs twitching. Different people experience RLS in different ways. Some say their legs ache. Some say their legs get itchy or tingly or feel pins and needles. Some even feel pain.

Sometimes RLS makes it difficult to sit still for very long, and can even prevent some people from getting to sleep, or from staying asleep.

In all cases, it feels like you just have to move your legs to get some kind of relief.

Some women have an onset of RLS with pregnancy, and may have RLS throughout their pregnancy, and then have it go away after child birth.

What is the Cause of RLS?

Nobody knows for sure why some people get RLS. It does seem that health, nutrition and physical activity play some part.

During my research, I have found the following factors which can contribute to RLS:

  • Heredity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of Magnesium in the diet
  • Lack of Folate (folic acid) in the diet
  • Lack of Iron in the diet
  • Over active nerves
  • Caffeine
  • High intake of carbohydrates
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Anti-depression medications such as Paxil or other SSRI type anti-depressants
  • Back problems or back surgery can trigger RLS

As stated previously, there are many cases of women getting RLS with the onset of pregnancy, and then having it disappear with the birth of their child. My conclusion is that during pregnancy, vitamins and minerals are absorbed and used differently, sending much of the nutrients to the fetus. So whereas the woman may not normally be deficient in these things, pregnancy may cause them to be deficient. Then after birth, the nutrients are absorbed and utilized by the woman, and not redirected to a baby, so the symptoms go away.

Of course this does not provide an explanation to those that have RLS and are not pregnant, including men with RLS.

RLS Treatment, in General

Unfortunately, there's not one great "cure-all" for RLS. Medical doctors have been trying many different treatments with different people. While one thing might work for one person, it won't work for the next few people. So treatment is going to be very individual to each person. You may need to try several things to see what works for you. Keep reading to see what some of your options are.

Homeopathic Treatment for RLS

There are many homeopathic treatments you can try on your own, however it's always a good idea to seek the advice of a doctor or homeopathic practitioner before taking anything new, especially if you're pregnant.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Taking vitamin and mineral supplements may help ease symptoms of RLS. Although, often times supplements alone aren't enough to eliminate the symptoms completely.

Valerian Root

Some people have reported that taking valerian root helps them to get to sleep, though it may not ease all of the symptoms of RLS.

Healthy Diet

In lieu of taking supplements, a more natural approach would be to alter your diet, to include foods that are high in magnesium, folate and iron. Click on any of the links to find a list of foods high in these items, and more information about each.


Many people have shown a marked improvement in RLS symptoms when taking melatonin.

Oxygen Machine (AKA Chi Machine)

During my research, I found one person who bought an oxygen machine for their home, using it for 10 minutes before going to sleep, and this helped them alleviate their symptoms and they are now able to sleep the whole night through, using this regiment.

Futuro Magnetic Bands

During my research, I found one person who said that wearing these bands above the ankles when going to bed, alleviated all RLS symptoms and allowed them to sleep. The bands were worn moderately loose so as not to interfere with blood flow.


Exercise has been shown to alleviate some RLS symptoms for some people, especially cardiovascular and other exercises that work out the leg muscles.

Leg Massages

Leg massages help some RLS sufferers, especially when done before going to bed at night.

Hot Baths

Some people have received some relief from RLS symptoms when taking hot baths.

Presecription RLS Remedies

According to one doctor, there is no one medicine that works to treat RLS, unfortunately. Doctors try various things to see if they can find something to help alleviate symptoms of each individual person, or at least help them to get a good night's sleep. The following is a list of just 'some' of the remedies that have been used. All require a prescription, so a consultation with your doctor is required.

  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel)
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Dilantin
  • Elavil
  • Klonopin (tolerance and addiction are a concern with this one)
  • Methylphenidate (used to treat ADHD)
  • Mirapex (Parkinson's medication)
  • Neorontin (anti-seizure medication)
  • Nocturnal Antihistamines
  • Permax (Parkinson's medication)
  • Requip
  • Sinemet (and Sinemet cr) (many people report a high number of side-effects with this one)
  • SRI antidepressants
  • Symmetrel
  • Trazadone
  • Ultram

And probably a lot of other ones.

One doctor stated that they have so much success treating RLS with Mirapex/Requip that they rarely have to resort to prescribing Symmetrel, which has also showed promise.


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    • hinazille profile image

      hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D

      yes, its always the best route... im actually a pharmacist but not a typical one - i prefer gearing my patients towards natural and alternative remedies, and save convenetional meds as a lasssst case scenario... & when i do recommend meds, i inform the patient on all relevant points so that they are making an informed decision to take the med...

      check out some of my other articles... there are a few health based ones in there you may find interesting..

    • Amber Killinger profile image

      Amber Killinger 5 years ago

      Thanks! I always prefer natural remedies and try not to resort to medications.

    • hinazille profile image

      hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D

      this is a good hub... im happy to see you recommended natural therapies first and foremost rather than automatically jumping to prescription medications...

      well done!