It feels like you constantly want to move your leg which makes you uncomfortable. The cause of Restless Legs Syndrome may not be in the lower limbs at all but actually may be in the brain. Scientists have found that low levels in the brain of a crucial chemical called dopamine. Also, iron and mineral may trigger the torturous tingling and twitching that is a hallmark of the condition that affects 10% of Americans.
Anything that affects the metabolism of the body of dopamine will affect the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome. This is one of the reasons experts recommend therapies that target the brain to ease the symptoms of the condition. It might be from increasing the levels of iron and dopamine to distract the mind.
Here are some tips on how you can ease the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome:
1. Increase levels of dopamine
The problem is usually the dopamine level in the nerves. Increasing dopamine will help ease symptoms. Medications that contain dopaminergic agents such as Ropinirole and Pramipexole are largely used to treat Parkinson’s disease. These increase dopamine and have been shown to lessen symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome.
Folic acid also helps improve the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It is recommended to have 800 micrograms twice a day.
2. Check your iron
Low iron could be the main cause of symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome. If the ferritin level is not above 50 nanograms per milliliter, it is not high enough. However, the problem might not lie just with iron levels but rather with how your brain processes them. People with Restless Legs Syndrome might poorly absorb the iron.
3. Boost your vitamin B intake
Folate or vitamin B increases the blood flow and improves Restless Legs Syndrome. This could be taken as supplements or through foods such as spinach, lentils, garbanzo beans, and peanuts. Vitamin B12 has also been linked to Restless Legs Syndrome. The recommended daily intake of it would be 2.4 mcg. However, you may need to ask your doctor before taking any supplements.
4. Use a sequential compression device
This type of device is a mechanical sleeve that fits over the leg and massages it by inflating and deflating with air. It is usually used to prevent blood clotting in hospital patients. One small study has shown it may help Restless Legs Syndrome patients as well. Patients who wore a sequential compression device for an hour before bedtime each night for 3 months reported improved daily task function and quality of life. It might work because the body is capable of only appreciating a limited number of stimuli simultaneously.
Working out may lessen symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome. On the other hand, don’t overdo it. Mild exercise such as light jogging, walking, or yoga may help Restless Legs Syndrome while vigorous exercise might trigger the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in some individuals.
6. Adjust your medication
Antidepressants and antipsychotics may worsen Restless Legs Syndrome. These drugs interfere with the metabolism of dopamine in the body. Any medication that blocks dopamine receptors including anti-nausea drugs used to decrease motion sickness, vomiting, and inner ear dizziness may worsen symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome.
7. Do not try melatonin
The naturally occurring hormone melatonin controls your body’s internal clock. Its levels normally increase at night. Melatonin also prevents the secretion of dopamine, which makes it bad news for patients with Restless Legs Syndrome. It may increase the symptoms in the evening.
8. Take magnesium and calcium
Magnesium and calcium are minerals that help in the functioning of nerves and muscles, so they may help patients with Restless Legs Syndrome. It is recommended to have a daily combination dosage of 200 mg of magnesium and 600 mg of calcium.
9. Get a massage
Before the onset of the symptoms massaging your legs is effective according to a study. Therapies such as sports massage and deep tissue for 45 minutes twice a week on the lower extremities decrease the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome. Symptoms were reported to cut after two treatments and continued to improve over the following three weeks.
10. Run a warm or cold bath
Taking a hot bath may relieve discomfort. However, once you get out of the bath, the symptoms will probably return. Others say a cold shower is soothing. Ice packs and heating pads have also been used for relief.