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Restless Leg Syndrome

Jumping can be good... as long as you have control over it!

Varicose Veins and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) have many symptoms in common: an urge to move your legs, that creepy-crawly feeling, itching, tingling and restlessness. These symptoms may be an indication of poor circulation, even though you have no visible varicose veins.

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Varicose veins are a common cause of secondary RLS. For those who have varicose veins, the symptoms of restlessness in legs center on the fact that leg muscles and tissue are not getting enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood. That "pins-and- needles" feeling is their body's way of telling them they need more blood flowing through their legs, and it creates an urge to move, making it difficult to sleep at night. In addition to cramps ("Charley horse") and restlessness in legs, varicose vein sufferers may also notice heaviness, excessive tiredness and aching in legs. Left untreated the underlying venous insufficiency (pooling of blood in legs) may cause swelling, clots and sores.

Some patients have Primary RLS. This means that the cause is unknown. In addition to varicose veins, there are other secondary causes of RLS including iron deficiency anemia, kidney failure, side effects of certain medications (such as medications used to control depression), peripheral neuropathy and dehydration (inadequate fluid intake or caffeine intake).

Funny Doctor Cartoon Image 15If you experience restlessness in your legs, consult with a Vein Specialist to see if varicose veins may be the cause. A duplex ultrasound examination in comforts of the office setting can help determine if varicose veins are present.

Treatment of varicose veins may alleviate the symptoms of RLS. One study* found that 98% with RLS and varicose veins noted improved after treatment of varicose veins with sclerotherapy. Newer treatments such as endovenous laser ablation are more effective than sclerotherapy and offer longer term solution. Use of medications to mask symptoms of RLS may cause side effects without addressing the underlying cause. Other ways to manage symptoms of restlessness in legs include calf exercises, weight loss and use of graduated compression stockings.

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*Dermatol Surg. 1995 Apr;21(4):328-32.
The effect of sclerotherapy on restless legs syndrome.