Chiropractic Insights into Managing Restless Leg Syndrome

by | Mar 4, 2024 | 0 comments

9 min read

Have you ever felt a relentless, almost uncontrollable need to move your legs, mainly as the night draws in? You’re certainly not the only one.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a condition that often interrupts sleep and impacts daily activities, is a familiar struggle for many.

But what if there was a way to alleviate these symptoms that didn’t solely rely on medication?

Chiropractic treatments provide relief for those battling RLS.

Join us as we uncover the potential benefits of this natural, non-invasive approach to a more restful and comfortable life!

restless leg syndrome

Why Won’t My Legs Relax? Do I Have Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurological disorder commonly affecting the legs and causing an overwhelming urge to move them. This condition, often diagnosed through a patient’s medical history and physical exam, can significantly impact sleep quality and daily life.

So, if you’ve been overwhelmed by an irresistible urge to move your legs or experienced uncomfortable sensations creeping up your limbs during periods of rest, you might be one of the many grappling with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

Understanding The Symptoms of RLS

The key symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome include:

  1. Irresistible Urge to Move the Legs: This urge usually comes along with uncomfortable sensations, often described as crawling, itching, or throbbing feelings within the legs. These symptoms typically occur in the evening or nighttime and are relieved by movement.
  2. Worsening Symptoms During Periods of Inactivity: The symptoms of RLS are most noticeable when the individual is resting, sitting, or lying down and can severely hinder the ability to fall asleep or remain at rest.
  3. Temporary Relief with Movement: People with RLS often find that walking, stretching, or moving the affected limb temporarily relieves the unpleasant feelings.
  4. Periodic Limb Movements: Many individuals with RLS also experience periodic limb movements during sleep, involuntary leg twitches or jerks that can occur throughout the night.
  5. Daytime Drowsiness and Sleep Deprivation: Due to the difficulty in falling and staying asleep, individuals with RLS often suffer from daytime drowsiness, which can affect their daily activities.

Can Restless Leg Syndrome Be Diagnosed?

Diagnosing RLS involves a complete medical history and physical exam, as there’s no single test for it.

Sleep studies, neurological exams, and evaluation of symptoms like periodic limb movements are crucial in distinguishing RLS from other sleep disorders like sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder.

Understanding when symptoms occur, their severity, and any worsening symptoms is essential for a correct diagnosis.

Factors Contributing to Restless Leg Syndrome

Factors Contributing to Restless Leg Syndrome

While the exact cause of RLS is still being researched, several factors are known to contribute to or worsen RLS symptoms.

Iron deficiency is a key factor, as a lack of iron can affect the brain chemical dopamine, which is vital for muscle movement and the nervous system. Blood tests often reveal lower blood iron levels in those with RLS.

In severe cases, underlying medical conditions such as kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy, or other chronic diseases may play a role.

Additionally, certain medicines, including allergy medications, can exacerbate the symptoms.

Can Addressing Iron Deficiency Improve Restless Leg Syndrome?

A low blood iron level can affect the brain chemical dopamine, which is vital for regulating muscle movement and the nervous system.

For people with RLS and low iron levels, iron supplements can be prescribed to increase dopamine functionality and potentially relieve symptoms. It’s important to consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplementation.

Over-supplementation can lead to adverse effects and should be carefully managed.

Addressing iron deficiency is crucial to managing RLS, especially in patients with severe symptoms or those who have not responded adequately to other treatments.

Is the Answer to Restless Leg Syndrome Chiropractic Care?

Exploring the potential of chiropractic care in treating Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) opens up a fascinating avenue for those struggling with this often debilitating condition.

Chiropractic care, centered on the health of the spinal cord and the nervous system, offers a unique perspective on RLS.

The philosophy behind chiropractic treatment is that spinal misalignments can affect the body’s nervous system and, in turn, may contribute to various conditions, including RLS.

By correcting these misalignments, chiropractors aim to improve nerve function and alleviate the symptoms associated with RLS.

Treating RLS with chiropractic care often involves a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s medical history and a physical examination of the spine and nervous system.

This holistic approach addresses the symptoms and looks at the individual’s overall health and lifestyle factors that may influence RLS.

Chiropractic Approaches to Managing Restless Leg Syndrome

In managing RLS, chiropractors typically employ various techniques like spinal adjustments to correct misalignments and relieve nerve pressure, massage therapy to reduce muscle tension, and lifestyle advice to improve overall nervous system health.

Holistic chiropractors may also recommend exercises explicitly targeting the affected limbs, temporarily relieving the uncomfortable sensations associated with RLS.

While chiropractic care does not treat iron deficiency or kidney failure, it can be a valuable part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Why Do RLS Symptoms Worsen at Night?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) symptoms often worsen at night, perplexing and frustrating patients.

This nocturnal intensification is partly due to the body’s circadian rhythms. At night, the brain naturally decreases dopamine, which is essential for controlling muscle movement and the nervous system.

Since RLS is supposedly linked to a dopamine imbalance, this reduction can exacerbate symptoms, making it harder to fall asleep and leading to discomfort and daytime drowsiness.

Chiropractic care may offer relief by focusing on the nervous system and spinal health.

Spinal misalignments can impact nerve function, and by correcting these through chiropractic adjustments, it’s possible to improve nerve signaling and reduce RLS symptoms.

This approach can be especially beneficial for those with symptoms linked to spinal cord issues or peripheral neuropathy.

What Is the Best Position to Sleep in with Restless Legs?

3 best positions to sleep in with restless legs

Living with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) often means facing nights filled with discomfort and the relentless urge to move your legs.

Finding the proper sleep position can be massively helpful in managing these symptoms and improving the quality of one’s rest.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, certain positions benefit individuals with RLS.

1. The Fetal Position

  • Why It Helps: Curling up on your side in the fetal position can provide a sense of comfort and security. This position can also help to reduce the sensation of leg movements.
  • How to Do It: Lie on your side, gently draw your knees up towards your chest, and curl your torso towards your knees. Keep your spine straight to avoid back pain.

2. Side Sleeping with a Pillow Between Legs

  • Why It Helps: Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs helps align your hips and spine, reducing stress on your lower back. This position can also minimize the movements of your legs during the night.
  • How to Do It: Lie on your side and place a firm pillow between your knees. Ensure that your legs and spine remain aligned.

3. Back Sleeping with Elevated Legs

  • Why It Helps: Elevating your legs while lying on your back can improve circulation and reduce RLS symptoms.
  • How to Do It: Lie flat on your back and use pillows or a foam wedge to elevate your legs above the level of your heart.

Remember, what works best can vary from person to person. Finding the sleep position that best reduces your RLS symptoms may take some experimenting.

5 Stretches for Restless Leg Syndrome

5 stretches for restless leg syndrome

Stretching helps relax the leg muscles and reduce the uncomfortable sensations associated with RLS.

Here are five stretches that are particularly effective for those dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome:

1. Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • How to Do It: Stand upright and place one foot in front of you on a slightly elevated surface. Keep your toes pointing upwards and gently lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch legs.
  • Benefits: This stretch targets the hamstrings, which can alleviate leg tension, a common trigger for RLS symptoms.

2. Seated Forward Bend

  • How to Do It: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Reach your hands towards your feet, bending at the waist as far as comfortable. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
  • Benefits: This stretch engages your hamstrings, calves, and lower back, promoting relaxation.

3. Calf Stretch

  • How to Do It: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at eye level. Place one leg behind you with the knee straight and the other in front with a bent knee. Gently press the heel of the back leg into the ground until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch legs.
  • Benefits: This stretch is excellent for relieving tension in the calf muscles, often a source of discomfort in RLS.

4. Hip Flexor Stretch

  • How to Do It: Kneel on one knee with the other foot in front, creating a 90-degree angle at both knees. Shift your weight forward gently until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip and thigh of the back leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.
  • Benefits: This stretch helps loosen tight hip flexors, which can contribute to the symptoms of RLS.

5. Legs Up the Wall

  • How to Do It: Sit with one side of your body against a wall, then gently swing your legs up onto the wall while lying flat on your back. Your body and legs should form an L-shape. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes.
  • Benefits: This restorative pose aids relaxation and can improve blood circulation in the legs, relieving RLS symptoms.

The Science Behind Chiropractic Care for RLS in NJ!

At Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, under the leadership of Dr. Gregory Doerr, adheres to the highest medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care in a comfortable, healing atmosphere. 

Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic care services! Our offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve the areas of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD. Also, access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on ways to keep you healthy and active through your golden years!

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