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What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?


Restless Leg Syndrome is a sensory disorder that is characterised by unpleasant sensations in the legs. Restless Leg Syndrome also can urge your legs to move which stops discomfort. Symptoms include tingling, itchiness, cramps or pain in the legs, particularly in the lower legs when sitting or lying down. As a result most people who suffer from restless legs syndrome have difficulty when trying to fall asleep. The severity of the symptoms depends on the individual, varying from mild to intolerable.                                                                                                  

What Causes Restless Legs?

RLS affects up to 10% of people annually, of both sexes, but is more common in women. Restless Leg Syndrome may begin at any age, but most people affected are middle-aged or older. The exact cause of restless legs syndrome is still unknown by medical professionals. Genetics play a huge role is restless legs syndrome. 50% of people who suffer from RLS also have family members with the condition. RLS is closely linked to chromosome 12 and 14. Aside from genetics, other development risk factors include:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s
  • Pregnancy
  • Nerve disease
  • Obesity
  • Certain medications such as anti-nausea, anti-seizure


There is no known cure for Restless Leg Syndrome. Treatments are used to minimise the symptoms, which in time symptoms may even disappear. There are both medical and physical therapy treatments which can be used minimise symptoms. Another way to minimise restless leg syndrome symptom’s is to make lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle Changes –

For certain individuals where there is no apparent medical condition causing RLS and the symptoms are mild, certain lifestyle changes may reduce the symptoms. These include having a regular exercise programme, regular sleep schedule, decreased consumption of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, along with reducing the amount of stress influences in life.

Medical –

A number of medications such as central nervous system depressants can be tried to help treat the more severe RLS. A GP will be able to recommend and prescribe a suitable medication should it be needed. In addition, if an individual feels that iron or magnesium deficiency could be the cause of the RLS, a GP can conduct some blood work and prescribe any necessary supplements.

Physiotherapy –

Restless leg syndrome symptoms can be relieved by movement. Physiotherapy is a popular treatment used to treat restless leg syndrome. A physiotherapist will help build an effective exercise plan to put a routine in place, in addition to recommending various strengthening and stretching exercises. They may also recommend relaxation exercises or massage for restless leg syndrome. Relaxation techniques have been known to relieve restless leg syndrome symptoms. In addition, movement pattern re-education which typically involves neuromuscular re-education of movement, balance, coordination, posture and one’s own sitting and standing activities may be recommended.

As mentioned, there is no specific cure for Restless Leg Syndrome, however, Physiotherapy can help control the condition, reduce symptoms and improve sleep. If you are suffering from RLS and have tried all possible treatments, get in touch with us on 01-6606582, or alternatively you can book an appointment with us online here. 

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