Restless Leg Syndrome

By on December 13, 2015
restless leg syndrome

By Steve Cochrane –

Many women in their 50’s find that their life is detrimentally affected by a condition known as restless leg syndrome. This is an uncomfortable and distressing problem which can impact upon men and women of all ages, and is thought to effect as many as 1 in 10 of the population (Source). Statistically speaking, however, women are twice as likely to experience the problem as men, with women over the age of 50 being the most commonly effected.

In simple terms, the syndrome consists of an inability to keep the legs still, with sufferers feeling an irresistible urge to keep moving their legs no matter how much they might want to stop. This movement is often accompanied with aches, pains and tingling around the legs, feet and calves and many patients describe a ‘crawling’ or creeping sensation on the skin of the parts of the leg which are effected. Although restless leg syndrome, technically speaking, can occur at any time during the day it is far more likely to occur during the night, and it is this which, in many cases, is the most distressing aspect of the syndrome.

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Women suffering from restless leg syndrome find that their sleep is disturbed almost every night. Not only is this unpleasant in its’ own right, but it can trigger a host of other health problems, including the following, which have been linked to sleep deprivation:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Lower life expectancy       

Put these risks to general health alongside the fact that a lack of sleep will leave you feeling exhausted, depressed and unable to work or enjoy your life to the full, and it can be seen that restless leg syndrome and the impact it has is something which has to be regarded as a serious health issue and presented to a medical practitioner at the first opportunity.

Possible Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome

Basically, there is no single agreed cause of restless leg syndrome nor, unfortunately, is there a single test which a doctor can carry out to identify the reason why a particular woman has been affected. In some cases, the syndrome is linked to a chemical known as dopamine, which helps to control muscle movements. If the doctor feels that a patients’ brain is failing to process the dopamine in the body properly, then they may prescribe medication to restore the correct balance.   

The process of determining the exact cause of restless leg syndrome is often one of elimination, with the doctor ruling out conditions which have been known to trigger the syndrome such as diabetes, thyroid problems and kidney disease. If a problem such as iron deficiency is identified then the treatment prescribed may well be as simple as a vitamin supplement or even a change in diet, whilst the possible presence of an underlying condition is another reason why restless leg syndrome should be treated seriously.

Varicose Veins and Restless Leg Syndrome

Recent studies have uncovered a link between patients who are suffering from restless leg syndrome and those who have been affected by varicose veins. In many ways this is the most positive outcome for a patient whose life is being limited by restless leg syndrome, as it is both easy to detect and, if detected, simple to treat. In some cases, varicose veins or venous reflux – a problem with the valves in the veins – will be present without being visible, in which case an ultra sound scan will be used to identify them. Once found, the veins can be treated using laser therapy during a single visit to the clinic.

Unlike the procedures which used to be applied to varicose veins, modern laser therapy is quick and pain-free and can be administered during a single trip to a clinic or surgery. As laser treatment is minimally-invasive, it doesn’t require a lengthy period of recuperation, and a woman who had had her varicose veins treated in this way can immediately return to work and get on with the rest of her life, boosted by the fact that she’ll finally be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep.        


Steve Cochrane has been a freelance journalist and writer for more than 25 years. During that time he has covered a wide variety of topics, including writing on matters of health and well-being for publications such as the Guardian, the Times and a range of websites.

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Restless Leg Syndrome