I have restless leg syndrome, but I would categorize mine as currently being annoying and inconvenient, not the life altering, stay awake all night kind that I had as a teen. My restless legs first appeared in high school when I was having trouble sleeping. I didn’t know in 1990 what it was or what it was called. There were no meds for it back then. I just endured it. It got pretty bad in college. I have VIVID memories of sitting in class, lectures, church, etc… and I had this intense NEED to move my legs. It is so hard to describe to someone who has never experienced it. Let’s put it like this…if someone had a gun to my head and said don’t move your legs or I’ll shoot…I would be dead. It is torturous. When I am attacked with an episode, I MUST MOVE MY LEGS!!!!
RLS can be a common symptom for people with fibromyalgia. I recently stumbled across two things that have helped me a great deal. First, there were studies done back in 2003, that possibly linked restless legs to low iron levels in the blood. One particular study showed that brain cells in RLS patients were not absorbing iron properly. You can read about that study here. There was also another study done in 2009 that compared treatments for RLS. One group was treated with the pharmaceutical drug, Requip, the other group was treated with iron therapy. The iron therapy group won and decreased symptoms twice as much as those on meds. You can read about that study here.
I have not tried meds for RLS and don’t intend too as I am very sensitive to side effects and often find pharmaceutical drugs to do more harm than good in my body. I prefer natural methods of treatment when possible. But that’s just me! I was anemic during my pregnancies so I loaded up on the iron supplements and the RLS episodes greatly decreased. Coincidence? I don’t know. Currently, my blood tests show that my iron levels are on the very low side of normal, so I continue to take the iron supplements with the guidance of my physician and RLS symptoms only show up once in a while.* It is much more tolerable and my episodes are becoming less frequent.
Also, a self help trick I just discovered that is working fabulously for both me and my 9 year old daughter. I have a Homedics handheld, vibrating massager, similar to the one here. When I have an RLS attack at bedtime and I’m unable to fall asleep, I use the massager on my feet. It is a very strange sensation. It almost numbs the feet and legs with vibration. And then, my legs are calm. I’m not sure why it works, but maybe it stimulates blood flow or relaxes the muscles. Who knows? But for whatever reason, it works. Try it. It may work for you too.
Have you experienced RLS? What works for you?
*Too much iron can be lethal. I am not offering medical advice, just sharing my personal experience. Do not start taking iron supplements or any supplement without checking with your doctor first.