The downside of this kind of medicine is the probability of quite a few side effects. Furthermore, symptoms can return or even worsen after some time. In that case you need more and more of the medicine before feeling any result. This is called augmentation. Simultaneously, some people start to experience restless legs in the daytime or notice that their symptoms spread to their arms or torso.
Medicine against restless legs is only prescribed when no other option is left. Before that you should try to find alternative ways to decrease symptoms, as long as possible. Success is not guaranteed, of course. Testing it for yourself though is the only way to find out what works for you.
The first thing you could consider is your lifestyle. A structured, stable day rhythm may be helpful, as is eating on regular times. It is also important to take enough time for rest and relaxation. Stress worsens symptoms, so take good care of yourself.
Your overall condition will profit from a fixed night rhythm. Try to go to bed around the same time each night and keep the time to get up the same, as much as possible. Irregular sleeping patterns can deteriorate symptoms of restless legs. Better safe than sorry…
Exercise is supportive of a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, inactivity worsen symptoms of restless legs. Try to exercise regularly during the day, for example by going for a walk or doing some exercises at home (like yoga).
Some foods and drinks are known for having a negative effect on restless legs, for example products with caffeine (coffee and black tea) and alcohol. Smoking is also detrimental. Try for yourself if refraining from these products for some time improves your situation.
Vitamins en minerals
Supplement a lack of iron is one of the options. Your general practitioner can test if you have a deficiency of iron in your blood. Make sure you look for the amount of ferritin. This is a protein that stores iron in the liver and bone marrow. Its level should be above 50. Taking extra iron may have side effects, so be careful and check beforehand with your doctor.
Taking magnesium could also alleviate symptoms. There are different kinds of magnesium for sale. Best known are magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. Magnesium oxide is gradually absorbed by the human body and its effect will not be noticed instantly after taking. The effect of magnesium citrate will be felt much faster. Inform yourself about available types of magnesium, check possible dosages and try them out before jumping to conclusions. Your general practitioner could test your blood for magnesium deficiencies.
You can also consider taking extra vitamin B12. Ask your doctor or another health professional before starting to experiment yourself.
Folic acid, also called vitamin B11 or vitamin B9, is another option. A lack of this mostly occurs in women during pregnancy. In most cases symptoms of restless legs disappear after birth. Check first with your general practitioner.
When your legs give you trouble at night and you do not want to get up, you could try to massage your calf muscles. To massage can be strenuous for your hands. You could consider buying a device for that. Some can be used manually, others should be positioned under your legs.
You could also use your knee or foot to rub the calf of the other leg.
Hiring a masseur for regular massages is also a possibility, although it costs a bit more money. Massage stimulates blood circulation. You could see it a passive form of exercise.
It can be pleasant to cool off when the burning feeling in your calves becomes too much during the night. Standing on cool bathroom tiles for a while is a commonly heard thing among people with restless legs.
There are cooling mats for sale. You could position one in your bed to keep your legs cool. These mats are also used for animals. You could look for a cooling mat in an online store or in a pet shop.
Taking a cold shower is another option. In addition to its own benefits your bed itself has cooled off in the meantime.
It is recommendable to keep the upper part of the body warm.
There is no universal treatment for restless legs. Therapies to alleviate symptoms do exist. You could consider for example physiotherapy, osteopathy or acupuncture. There are more care providers, no doubt. Think about what you would like to try. When in doubt, ask your doctor or other health professional for advice.
Physiotherapy may help for restless legs syndrome. This therapy is often a combination of treatment and of exercises you should do yourself. You profit the most when you are able to improve your situation by your own adjustments.
Osteopathy is similar in this respect. The therapist first gives you a manual treatment and then provides you with exercises to do at home. Hopefully with this you can minimize your symptoms for the longer run.
Acupuncture is another approach. Small needles are used to improve blood circulation and to rebalance energy in the human body. This therapy is accompanied by lifestyle advice as well.
There are several devices on the market claiming that they would help with restless legs. It works for one person and does not work at all for another. Try some of them out if you like. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…
An example of this is a vibrating plate. You sit on a chair and position your feet on this plate. Several programs can be chosen, for 10 minutes or longer. The vibration encourages blood circulation.
Another example is the Release417. This is a strap that should be put around the upper part of your leg. The pressure ensures a better blood circulation in the whole leg.
Compression stockings could help as well. They also give pressure on the leg, in this case directly on the calves.