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Restless Leg Syndrome – causes, side effects and treatments at

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 by

Restless leg syndrome (RLS), or the Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition where a person feels a strong urge to move the legs around. This is often felt at night time and comes with unpleasant sensations such as tingling, burning, and aching. RLS can mostly be felt when the legs are at rest.

Moving the legs mag give temporary relief, however, once a person stops to rest, the feeling of restlessness in the lower extremities comes back. RLS tends to run in families and often causes insomnia.

Known risk factors and symptoms of restless leg syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome has no known cause, leading experts to classify it as “idiopathic.” There are instances when RLS occurs due to an underlying health condition, like iron deficiency. Long-term health problems, such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and rheumatoid arthritis, or normal conditions like being pregnant can also trigger the syndrome.

While the following do not directly cause RLS, they’re known to make symptoms worse.

  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Lithium
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Antihistamines
  • Metoclopramide
  • Too much smoking, caffeine, or alcohol
  • Being overweight
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Inadequate sleep

The most common symptoms of this condition are:

  • Leg pain
  • Cramps
  • Tingling
  • Itchy
  • Burning sensation
  • Aching
  • Numbness

Body systems affected by restless leg syndrome

Since RLS often occurs at night and it urges a person to move around, it commonly leads to severe cases of insomnia. This also affects the quality of life of those who suffer from it, especially because adequate sleep is necessary to function properly within the day.

Patients with RLS are also known to have a higher risk of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, there are cases where patients also feel the same symptoms of RLS on their arms or suffer from sudden jerking of the arms and legs. more commonly referred to as periodic limb movements.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve restless leg syndrome

To help prevent or relieve the unpleasant symptoms of restless leg syndrome, the following should be included in one’s diet.

  • Iron – Since RLS is linked to iron deficiency, it makes sense to consume food rich in iron, such as beans and lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, cashews, spinach, and liver and other organ meats.
  • Folate – It helps address anemia by producing new cells including red blood cells. Foods like asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, okra, and Brussel sprouts are good sources of folate.
  • Magnesium – It has been studied as a supplement that can treat RLS due to its ability to stabilize neuronal membranes. Some foods rich in magnesium are avocados, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and bananas.
  • Diosmin – Supports venous function which allows it to prevent or relieve chronic venous diseases. This can be found in citrus juices like lemonades. and herbs such as peppermint.

Treatment and management options for restless leg syndrome

Treatment for restless leg syndrome varies depending on the intensity of the condition. There are some who are relieved from it once an underlying condition has been treated. However, there are more severe cases which require prescribed medication.

Iron supplements are the first line of action for RLS since the condition is highly associated with anemia. Other known remedies for RLS are:

  • Change in diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Creating a regular, healthy sleeping habit
  • Doing yoga and other stretching methods
  • Getting a massage
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Managing stress

Where to learn more


Restless leg syndrome is the uncontrollable urge to keep the legs moving and often occurs at night. It comes with uncomfortable sensations like tingling, burning, and aching. Women are more prone to developing the disease, and it is also known to be genetically passed.

RLS has been associated with iron deficiency or anemia. It can also be caused by other underlying health conditions and can be triggered by excessive smoking, caffeine, and alcohol. Common symptoms are leg pain, cramps, tingling, itchy, burning sensation, aching, and numbness.

This condition can cause insomnia and negatively affects the quality of life of patients. Those who suffer from RLS are also at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. Moreover, there cases when a patient can feel the same symptoms in his/her arms.

By consuming food or dietary supplements rich in iron, folate, magnesium, and diosmin can help prevent or relieve RLS. All of these are normally found in green leafy vegetables.

By treating the underlying condition causing RLS, the condition may go away. But in some cases, a lifestyle change is all that’s needed to relieve the condition. Patients can achieve this by changing their diet, doing regular exercise, creating a healthy sleeping habit, and staying away from smoking, alcohol, and caffeine.

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