The sensation is described as burning or a creeping sensation which can be mild or quite severe. There is a strong urge to move the legs or get out of bed to relieve the symptoms. Frequently the symptoms varies in severity and can occur once a week or nightly with multiple episodes throughout the evening.
It is estimated at least 12 million Americans have restless leg syndrome. It more commonly affects middle age to older people although it can affect people at any age. More than 80 percent of people with restless leg syndrome also experience a condition known as periodic limb disorder where jerking involuntary motions of the leg occur during sleep.
The cause of restless leg syndrome is medically unknown. There is a 50 percent family history of the condition. Certain conditions such as anemia, kidney disease and diabetes can cause or exasperate restless leg syndrome. Certain medications are thought to be implicated in this condition. Nerve conduction studies and Doppler sonography should be performed to evaluate and rule out damage to the nerves and vascular flow. If these tests are negative restless leg syndrome may be diagnosed.
The traditional approach to treatment consists of medications which may or may not work for sufferers. Any long term treatment with medication should be carefully thought through since the toxicity of the medication can lead to other serious health problems. The avoidance of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine is another medical suggestion that sometimes is helpful.
From a more natural and holistic approach one must consider what movement has to do with relieving a symptom and why suffers of restless leg syndrome have the need to move. Muscle movement pumps the lymphatic vessels, which moves toxins out of an area. So when the thigh is prompted to move, the contraction of the muscle literally pumps the body’s sewer system which is the lymphatic system. People with restless leg syndrome have an affinity for anything that is toxic to their body to affect the leg. What makes certain toxins affect a certain part of the body is unclear; however, it is identifiable and manageable.
There are various substances that can be toxic and trigger the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. People with restless leg syndrome react to various foods, preservatives, impurities and toxins in their legs or thigh – just as people with irritable bowel syndrome react to these same substances in their colon. It can be a metal such as mercury, cadmium, lead or any other heavy metal. It can be sensitivity to wheat, nitrates, sulfites, caffeine, cocoa, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, or any other impurity. Each area and tissue of the body has its own ability to detoxify and in restless leg syndrome anything that the person is sensitive to will be a potential trigger to an episode.
Identification of the offending substances is the key to successfully managing this condition. Certain food items may need to be removed from the diet or it is frequently possible to desensitize you to a food item that your body proves to be reactive to. It is also important to improve the ability of the lower extremity to detoxify more efficiently. This will eventually allow for casual exposure to toxins to be better tolerated. Detoxification issues can be genetic in nature which can be handled with proper nutritional remedies or even from exposure to a pathogen which can hamper the cells ability to detoxify.
There is research being done to also check the role of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine and its effect in the brain which could affect muscle activity. Keep in mind that toxins, especially artificial sweeteners which are known as neuro-toxins clearly affect the brain and the production of neurotransmitters. So whether the sensitivities you have affect you locally in the leg or neurologically in the brain, it is still imperative to be tested to see what is toxic to your body.
Kinesiology testing is a simple accurate means of testing for a wide variety of substances that one is exposed to. The testing is done specifically against the affected area, usually the leg, or in some cases the thigh. Sensitivities can be determined as well as tissue toxicity. Nutritional remedies for the rapid reduction of toxins can be utilized usually bringing rapid relief. Dietary changes and or food desensitization methods are also incorporated. The condition is a highly manageable one with dramatic improvements expected within a short period of time.
Dr. Silverman is a chiropractor and state certified nutritionist who has been in practice for 20 years. He has taught college level courses in holistic health and nutrition and has appeared on many TV and radio shows including the Gary Null show and News 12. He has lectured and consulted for several homeopathic and nutritional companies and has two offices, one in Hauppauge (631-724-6780) and one in Roslyn (516-484- 0776.)