Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome

Article by Shane Armfield

What is a Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a sensory, neurological disorder characterised by unpleasant sensations in the legs and the compelling need to move the legs. The most common sensations have been described as cramping, soreness, creeping or crawling sensation in the calves or feet, varying in severity from mild discomfort to severe pain. Restless Leg Syndrome is usually experienced when trying to sleep or when seated.

Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms?

The most distinctive symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome are cramping, soreness, creeping or crawling in the lower legs when lying down and trying to relax. As a result, most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Over a period of time, this may cause daytime exhaustion and fatigue.

What Causes Restless Legs?

The exact cause of Restless Leg Syndrome is unknown, but it has been linked to:

  • Iron deficiency and poor iron transport around the body;
  • Family genetics – 50% of RLS is linked to genetic chromosome 12 or 14, depending on the family;
  • chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathies;
  • pregnant women in their last trimester;
  • people taking certain medications – such as anti-nausea, anti-seizure, and antipsychotic drugs.Restless Leg Syndrome

Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome


  • Several medications may treat the disorder, including central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines, opioids and anticonvulsants. Medications that affect dopamine transmission in the central nervous system (Sinemet, Madopar, Pergolide and Cabergoline) have been shown to help with Restless Leg Syndrome. Your GP or specialist will provide you with the relevant support and medication if you require it.
  • If you are Iron, folate or magnesium deficient, your GP will be able to perform a blood test to confirm any deficiencies and prescribe the necessary supplements.

Therapy – Exercise

  • Movement can bring temporary relief from the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. This is why you may feel that walking in the night when you get symptoms feels good. Alternatively, performing a regular moderate exercise program may help reduce your symptoms and help you sleep better. However, excessive exercise has been reported by some patients to aggravate RLS symptoms.

Your physiotherapist will be able to monitor and advise you on suitable exercises to help with Restless Leg Syndrome.

Therapy – Massage, Heat and Ice

  • While there is no conclusive evidence suggesting massaging cures Restless Leg Syndrome, many patients feel symptoms can be eased by regular massage.
  • Using a heat pack, having a warm bath or placing an ice pack on your symptomatic areas for 10-15mins before bed may also help relieve symptoms.


Certain lifestyle changes and activities may reduce or eliminate symptoms for patients with no apparent associated medical condition. These include:

  • decreased use of caffeine,
  • decreased use of alcohol,
  • decreased use of tobacco,
  • addressing any stressful influences in your life.

For specific advice, please contact your physiotherapist for advice.

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Understanding Arthritis-Related Conditions

An Overview

Arthritis is a prevalent and diverse group of conditions affecting millions worldwide. It encompasses many disorders characterised by inflammation and joint pain, often leading to stiffness, swelling, and reduced mobility. Arthritis can significantly impact a person's quality of life, affecting their ability to perform daily tasks and engage in physical activities.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of arthritis-related conditions, focusing on both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. By understanding these conditions' causes, symptoms, and treatment options, individuals can make informed decisions about managing their joint health and seek appropriate medical guidance.

Arthritis Overview

In this article, we will explore the fundamental aspects of arthritis, including its definition, common symptoms, and risk factors. By establishing a clear understanding of what arthritis entails, readers can grasp the broader context before diving into specific subtypes.

Rheumatoid Conditions

This article delves into rheumatoid conditions, encompassing autoimmune disorders primarily affecting the joints. We will provide an overview of each condition, highlighting key characteristics, diagnostic approaches, and available treatment modalities. The rheumatoid conditions covered in this article include:

Osteoarthritis Conditions

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is the focus of this section. We will delve into its definition, underlying causes, risk factors, and prevalence. Additionally, we will explore specific osteoarthritis conditions.

Spinal Arthritic Conditions

Peripheral Joint Arthritis

By dividing the information into these sections, we aim to provide readers with a well-structured and informative resource. Each section will delve into the specificities of the respective conditions, including their impact on different parts of the body, available treatment options, and strategies for managing symptoms. Whether you seek general knowledge or are personally affected by arthritis-related conditions, this article is a valuable guide to navigating this complex field.

Please note that while this article provides a comprehensive overview, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Individuals experiencing symptoms or seeking specific treatment recommendations should consult with qualified healthcare professionals for personalised care.

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