What Is Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome , also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is essentially a sleep disorder. If you struggle to fall asleep because you have the strong urge to move their legs, you could have RLS. Restless legs syndrome can cause uncomfortable sensations in your legs such as a creeping, itchy, pulling, tugging, throbbing, burning and crawling feeling. Often, these sensations occur when you are lying down or after sitting for long periods.
People of any age can get restless legs syndrome, however the cause of restless legs syndrome differs from person to person. The chances of having restless legs syndrome increases significantly as you get older. You are also more at risk if you have a relative with restless legs syndrome. Lets dive more into the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
Drugs To Boost Dopamine
Some common drugs used in this instance are pramipexole , rotigotine , and ropinirole .
Since lack of dopamine is generally responsible for RLS, this seems like a no brainer. But, there is a serious problem with taking these.
You build up a dependance, and your body stops producing its own dopamine. This can lead to even bigger issues down the road, especially as it pertains to mental health.
What Causes Restless Legs When Pregnant
The main reason for the itching, burning and insatiable urge to move feet is the backward flow of blood. Improper circulation makes the feet feel numb and sends sharp pain through them. When you move the feet the circulation gets better and you feel better.
Upon an episode of restless leg syndrome, pregnant women might take hours for getting comfort.
Some people relate restless legs in pregnancy to either a baby boy or a baby girl. However, theres is no scientific logic to relate the two things.
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Is Rls Bad For Pregnancy
While RLS can be uncomfortable and may hamper sleep, it does not cause any adverse effects on the fetus or the mother during pregnancy. However, pregnant women with RLS may also experience periodic limb movements of sleep , nocturnal leg cramps, and sleepiness during the day.
Some women may have insomnia due to RLS. Sleep duration and sleep quality could influence maternal mental health, the type of delivery, length of labor, the neonates APGAR scores, and birth weight.
In rare cases, women with RLS may be at a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications such as abortion, premature labor, difficult delivery, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth retardation .
What Are The Treatments For Restless Legs Syndrome
Patients with restless legs syndrome report that moderate exercise, such as walking, can help alleviate symptoms.
Regular or moderate exercise mixing aerobic and resistance workouts specifically targeting the legs can positively impact your RLS by potentially reducing symptom severity, Dr. Banka says.
Warm or cool packs, baths, massages, and foot wraps can also ease discomfort related to the condition.
Getting a good nights rest should also be a priority for restless legs syndrome patients since insufficient sleep can worsen RLS symptoms.
Beyond these home remedies, doctors can prescribe medicine to help treat symptoms of RLS. Many medications for restless legs syndrome such as ropinirole, rotigotine, and pramipexole intentionally increase dopamine levels in the brain. Others, such as gabapentin, help control nerve pain. Your physician may also prescribe muscle relaxants or sleep medications to help relieve mild symptoms associated with restless legs syndrome.
Some of the home and lifestyle remedies can help relieve symptoms immediately, whereas the medications can take longer to work but often have a longer duration of action, Dr. Banka says.
Patients should understand that medications for RLS tend to become less effective over time. As a result, their dosage or prescription type may need to be modified to continue treating their symptoms.
How Can Women Lower Restless Legs Risk While Pregnant
Getting rest when your limbs feel creepy-crawly can be a challenge, but sleep is essential for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Thankfully, there are some steps that expecting women can take to lower risk and improve symptoms. If simple measures dont improve symptoms, there are some supplements and medications your health care provider can recommend.
Treating Rls While Pregnant
If your symptoms are severe enough to interrupt your sleep night after night, you’ll probably want to see your doctor to get RLS treated. That can be challenging during pregnancy.
Most drugs typically used to treat restless legs syndrome, such as Requip and Mirapex , have not been studied extensively in pregnant women. So there is not enough data to determine all potential risks for a developing fetus.
Before you take any medicine for restless legs syndrome, your doctor should check your iron levels. If you’re low, you can take an iron supplement. In many cases where the supply of iron in the body is low a supplement will be enough to correct RLS.
If your RLS symptoms still don’t go away after an iron deficiency has been found and treated, some doctors prescribe opioid medication. Because of a risk of withdrawal symptoms in a newborn, opioids are typically given for a short period of time.
Also, the FDA has approved a device for treating RLS. Relaxis is the name of the vibrating pad placed under the legs while you’re in bed. It is available only by prescription.
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What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome can be characterized as an itchy, burning, creepy-crawly feeling in your legs, giving you no choice but to move them around in hopes of easing the unpleasant sensation. This feeling commonly occurs late at night when youre trying to sleep, and can keep you tossing and turning until the sun rises.
RLS is usually a lack of dopamine present in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for keeping muscle movements smooth and even, so when you dont produce enough, your motor patterns start to fall out of whack.
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Take A Prenatal Supplement
A folate-rich prenatal vitamin is necessary for preventing certain birth defects in baby, but it may also help RLS symptoms. Folate and iron help the body produce the hormone dopamine, which then helps muscles and nerves function right.
To make sure baby gets the nutrition they need, take a vitamin with folate, not folic acid. Heres a list of my favorite prenatal vitamins.
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Natural Ways To Combat Rls During Pregnancy
There are ways to soothe restless legs without any drugs. You can make slight lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on caffeine, exercising daily, and doing whatever you can to regain a normal sleep schedule.
But, I’ve also tried every non-drug solution under the sun and found these 5 natural treatments to be very effective.
Causes Of Restless Legs Syndrome
In many cases, the exact cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown.
When no cause can be found, it’s known as “idiopathic” or primary restless legs syndrome.
Research has identified specific genes related to restless legs syndrome, and it can run in families. In these cases, symptoms usually occur before the age of 40.
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Can I Prevent Rls
Unfortunately, theres no scientifically proven way to prevent RLS, Grundland says. The good news is that it usually resolves when you deliver your baby. Although, she adds, if you experienced RLS during your pregnancy, theres a slight chance it may resurface later in life.
The only thing you can do if you discover you have RLS is to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Treat yourself. Get the foot rubs, buy the pregnancy pillow, find the worlds most comfortable pyjamasdo what you can to make it more bearable, Patterson recommends. And know that its not forever.
Pattersons daughter is now 17 weeks, and happily its the baby, not her restless legs, whos keeping her up at night.
Cause Of Restless Leg Syndrome In Pregnancy
There is no clear answer to pinpoint the cause of RLS in pregnant women. Despite the fact that 33% of pregnant women have RLS, most drugs to cure it are yet to be tested for pregnancy.
Some researchers consider imbalance in levels of dopamine neurotransmitter as the cause. Others consider the change in the circulation of blood causes the signs.
Many women have mentioned that skipping their vitamins for few days aggravate the symptoms. Wearing compression socks and taking vitamins regularly prevented the occurrence. Their account justifies deficiency of folic acid and iron as one of the causes.
The reason for feeling sleepy all day when you have RLS is simply lack of sleep previous night. Pregnant women with recurrent symptoms need to seek medical treatment. Rising estrogen levels too contribute to the worsening of restless leg syndrome.
Anemia in pregnancy increases the risk of RLS 8 to 10 times2. Serving as an indicator of the significance of iron levels in preventing pregnancy RLS, studies prove low iron as a cause.
Studies describe the condition as neurological and all the causes are interrelated. Deficiency of iron is because of extra requirement during pregnancy. Dopamine fluctuations are because of lack of iron. Muscles contractions depend on iron and dopamine and its a ripple effect.
In case you had RLS even before you conceived, then you need to take extra precautions. Symptoms of pain, crawling sensation in feet and pricking will increase in intensity.
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When Can I Expect My Restless Legs Syndrome To End
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
How Do You Test For Restless Leg Syndrome
There is no test for restless leg syndrome.
That said, your healthcare provider may want to do tests to rule out other conditions. RLS can also be caused by things like kidney or brain disorders, so tests to measure the function of other organs may be suggested.
If youre pregnant, though, its generally assumed pregnancy is the cause.
Your provider will likely go over the following questions with you to confirm an RLS diagnosis:
- Do you have a strong urge to move your legs along with uncomfortable sensations?
- Are symptoms worse at rest and at night?
- Are symptoms relieved by movement?
- Do you have any known medical conditions that could cause these symptoms?
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What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy
Experts aren’t sure, although genetics are probably a factor. Other possible culprits include hormones, especially estradiol and progesterone, which surge during the third trimester and fall right after birth, following the same pattern as RLS.
Environmental and dietary factors like iron deficiency and/or sensitivity to certain types of foods may also be risks. That growing baby doing the samba in utero and pressing down on the nerves around your sacrum definitely doesnt help matters.
Neither does fatigue or low mood. Lack of sleep, anxiety, depression and stress common during pregnancy can all take a toll and may even trigger RLS. So take care of yourself and try to get plenty of rest.
Is Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy Dangerous
RLS doesnt directly put baby in jeopardy, but can indirectly make for a more complicated labor and uncomfortable pregnancy.
If your RLS is caused by nutrient deficiencies, this can lead to issues like anemia, mood disorders, and low energy. And sleeping can be difficult with RLS, which can lead to a whole host of health problems for you and baby. Some studies have found that pregnant women who get less than 8 hours of sleep are at greater risk of having a longer labor and Caesarean section.
Get More Iron In Your Diet
Using your diet to safely correct any iron deficiency can help alleviate RLS symptoms. The catch, Dr. Berkowski says, is knowing what your iron levels are. Iron supplements are certainly one way to get those levels up but youll need to be sure to consult with your doctor about that. If your iron levels are already normal or even too high, more iron wont help you give you those benefits, he adds.
If you are iron deficient, though, there are plenty of healthy ways to get iron through your diet. Eating red meat can really boost iron levels, Dr. Berkowski says, and if youre vegetarian, eating tofu, legumes, lentils and spinach is a way to get that iron.
Other foods that are rich in iron include eggs, fish and nuts, like cashews and almonds.
How Can I Treat Pregnancy
If you suspect you have RLS, its important to mention it to your doctor. Although there is no definitive diagnostic test for the syndrome itself, there are other things that should be ruled out that could be causing it, Grundland says. We might look for an iron deficiency or a thyroid abnormality, she says. If those things are found to be an issue, your OB, midwife or family doctor would then advise you about how to treat those conditions.
Since RLS is more annoying than dangerous, Grundland has never prescribed any medication for it. Its usually just a mild discomfort, she says. And while there are medications out there, none have been systematically tested in pregnancy. Still, she adds, the condition can be disruptive and interfere with your quality of sleep, which means moms-to-be need to find some relief.
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Exercise really does help, whether its simple stretches, yoga, walking or swimming, Beaulieu says.
Try taking magnesium to help relax your muscles, suggests Beaulieu. You can take it in supplement form, but talk to your OB or midwife first and get their recommendation about dosage.
If you dont want to take magnesium supplements, you can find it in natural sources such as green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and legumes including chickpeas and black beans.
Beaulieu also recommends massage therapy.
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Signs Of Restless Legs Syndrome In Pregnancy
RLS causes an unpleasant sensation in the lower limbs that feels like throbbing, itching, pulling, tingling, or just a painful feeling. Some people describe it as a creepy-crawly feeling that they cant help but try to shake off. The urge to move can be very powerful and may feel overwhelming at times.
Sometimes, the condition can be mistaken for nocturnal leg cramps or hypnic jerking, but unlike with RLS, moving the legs doesnt usually improve those conditions.
If you suspect you may have the syndrome, its important to speak with your health care provider about your symptoms. To be diagnosed, you have to meet the following criteria:
RLS is a common sleep disorder thats also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease . It affects between 5-15% of the general US population, although women are twice as likely to be affected than men. Pregnancy appears to increase the likelihood of struggling with this condition, although the exact underlying reason isnt fully understood.
When Does Restless Legs Syndrome Start During Pregnancy
Although you might notice RLS more at night, it can strike any time when you’re lying or sitting down. Most of the time you wont experience it until later in your pregnancy, during the third trimester.
Unfortunately, the usual treatments for leg cramps flexing and stretching may not work, and prescription medications that might relieve the restlessness may be off-limits during pregnancy.
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Pregnancy Problems: Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome and pregnancy
About 26 percent of pregnant women have restless leg syndrome , according to a report published in the Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health .
RLS can cause unpleasant sensations in your legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them. And it can interfere with your sleep.
Doctors arent sure why pregnant women are prone to RLS. It may be related to a dopamine imbalance, mineral deficiencies, or hormonal changes. If you develop RLS during pregnancy, your symptoms will likely go away within weeks of delivery.
In the meantime, home remedies may help you relieve your symptoms and get some quality sleep.
Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy
Between heartburn, that urgent need to use the loo every two hours, leg cramps and an insistent case of pregnancy insomnia, youre already having a tough time getting quality shut-eye. And now, in your third trimester of pregnancy, yet another pregnancy symptom is keeping you up all night: restless legs syndrome .
If youre one of the 15 percent of expecting moms who experience it, youll notice an uncomfortable and disconcerting tingling, creeping and crawling in your feet and legs accompanied by an urge to move them especially as you’re trying to get to sleep. Your legs seem to take on a life of their own, kind of like they’re plugged into an electrical socket and getting all juiced up.
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Have Sex Before Sleeping
Orgasm will help you relaxing and de-stressing. Before sleeping you can have sex when you are in the late first trimester until mucus plug comes off. Ask your doctor once if youve doubts about hurting the baby. For some doctors its a chance to crack some lame jokes that might make you blush thats all. Having sex makes the baby rock and feel good too. And your baby cannot see your lady bits or whats happening, so just try the remedy.