Restless leg syndrome can be a very difficult thing to live with. Whether you’re self-diagnosed or officially diagnosed by a doctor, it’s easy to be frustrated by the lack of information and treatments for this condition. So what are you supposed to do? Do you really have to live like this forever?
Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to help relieve your symptoms and get your life back! Obviously, not all treatments will work for all individuals, but there is hope out there. One thing that you can do to help with restless leg syndrome is to incorporate pillows into your daily routine for extra support.
But before you go this route, let’s go over what exactly restless leg syndrome is, what causes it, and what else you can do about it.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition that causes a nearly uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually due to unpleasant sensations. These sensations particularly occur at night but can also occur during the day if you are stationary for a long time. For example, if you’re sitting at your desk for long hours without getting up. Or if you stay seated on an airplane for a long transcontinental flight.
In order to ease these unpleasant sensations, people are driven to move their legs to temporarily relieve the discomfort. Even though this syndrome can occur at any age, it primarily affects older adults and tends to worsen with age. And although this condition is not particularly serious on its own and doesn’t lead to any dangerous complications, it can be very difficult and frustrating to live with.
Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
Here are some of the most common symptoms of restless leg syndrome:
- Sensations in the legs that begin after you’ve been sitting down or lying down for an extended period of time.
- Sensations primarily occur at night, but can less frequently occur during the day if you aren’t moving around a lot.
- Sensations are relieved with movement in your legs, including stretching, jiggling, or even walking.
- Legs twitching or kicking while you sleep.
It can be difficult for people to describe the exact sensations that they are experiencing as a result of restless leg syndrome— and it tends to differ from person to person. However, almost everyone will agree that these sensations are definitely unpleasant. They may also be described as a crawling, throbbing, aching, itching, pulling, or creeping feeling in the legs on both sides.
Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome
The exact cause of restless leg syndrome is not well-understood. However, research suggests that there may be a link between restless leg syndrome and an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine that controls muscle movements. It is also thought that it may be hereditary since it tends to run in families and can be identified in certain chromosomes. That being said, there are sometimes underlying causes of restless leg syndrome, including:
- Iron deficiency: Restless leg syndrome may be caused by an iron deficiency. Some other symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, paleness, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, poor appetite, and cold hands and feet. Blood tests can be performed to see if you are iron deficient. In that case, you should start taking supplements and adjusting your diet to include iron-rich foods such as red meat, beans, seafood, and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Kidney failure: Restless leg syndrome may be caused by kidney failure, which can easily lead to iron deficiency and contribute to restless leg syndrome.
- Nerve damage from diabetes: Long-term mismanagement of diabetes can cause nerve damage in the feet, which can contribute to restless leg syndrome. This is called peripheral neuropathy.
- Spinal cord conditions: Damage or injury to the spinal cord can potentially cause restless leg syndrome. You are at a higher risk of developing restless leg syndrome if you have had anesthesia administered to the spinal cord.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
At what point should you talk to your doctor about your restless leg syndrome? There is no simple answer to this question. Many people with restless leg syndrome never talk to a doctor about their concerns. This is because restless leg syndrome can be hard to explain and articulate to others who aren’t experiencing what you’re experiencing.
And while restless leg syndrome doesn’t lead to serious health conditions, it can be caused by conditions that need treatment and can also lead to struggling with insomnia— which in the long-term can definitely negatively impact your overall health. So if you are unable to sleep due to your symptoms or think that it may be caused by iron deficiency, you should speak with your doctor to receive testing and proper treatment.
Treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome can be tricky to treat if no potential cause is evident from your test results. Generally speaking, there are two potential routes that you can take when it comes to treating restless leg syndrome: medications and lifestyle changes.
Medications that were originally developed to treat other diseases may be effective in treating restless leg syndrome. Some of these medications include:
- Muscle relaxants and sleep medications
- Medications that increase dopamine in the brain
- Medications that affect calcium channels
Many of these medications can come with a whole host of side effects, and many do not actually treat the actual sensations themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to experience this annoyance for the rest of your life! There are some simple home remedies and lifestyle changes that you can make to potentially improve your condition, including:
- Getting enough exercise at moderate levels— just make sure to stretch before
- Avoiding caffeine in things like coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate
- Massaging your legs in a warm bath
- Applying warming and cooling packs on your legs
- Promoting a good sleep environment with a cool dark room, comfortable linens, and using things like essential oils or white noise machines to get to sleep
- Using a foot wrap specially designed for people with restless leg syndrome
- Incorporating supportive and elevating pillows into your routine
Can Leg Elevating Pillows Help With Restless Leg Syndrome?
One underrated potential treatment for restless leg syndrome is using a leg elevation pillow. This treatment option is a great alternative to using pharmaceutical medications since it’s simple, easy, and doesn’t involve putting anything into your body. Here’s everything you need to know about what types of pillows can help with restless leg syndrome:
- One type of pillow that can help with restless leg syndrome is a memory foam knee pillow. This pillow is ergonomically designed to pit perfectly between your legs and keep them separated enough to promote a perfect posture while you’re lying down.
It’s designed for side sleepers and can also help with knee, hip, and back pain as well as restless leg syndrome. It even comes with an adjustable strap so that it easily stays in place throughout the night!
- Another type of pillow that can help with restless leg syndrome is a memory foam half-moon bolster pillow. This is an extremely versatile product that can be used in between your knees in a manner similar to the previous pillow if you’re a side sleeper. Unlike the previous pillow, however, it can also be placed underneath your knees if you’re a back sleeper or even a stomach sleeper.
This 100% memory foam can cradle your knee and leg area and prevent restless leg syndrome from occurring while you’re trying to sleep. It also gets bonus points for its ability to be used to provide support in other areas like your back or neck for when you’re dealing with pain in these areas rather than dealing with restless leg syndrome that comes and goes.
- The last type of pillow that can help with restless leg syndrome is a memory foam foot rest pillow. Unlike the other types of pillows, this one is designed to be used solely while you are sitting down rather than when you’re sleeping. This can help combat restless leg syndrome that might occur while you’re working long hours sitting at your desk.
It’s small enough to fit under your desk and even comes with a non-slip bottom and a removable, washable cover so that it’s easy to keep it in place and keep it clean! After using this pillow, you may experience fewer symptoms of restless leg syndrome, as well as reduced foot and leg pain caused by too much pressure on these areas that occurs even when you’re sitting down.
As you can see, there are many different treatments for restless leg syndrome, but perhaps one of the best things you can do is to incorporate a memory foam pillow into your daily routine when you’re awake and asleep! You’d be surprised at how much a small change can impact your condition and everyday life.