Restless Leg Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia can both cause issues for sufferers. As if fibromyalgia doesn’t cause enough distress when you’re awake, it often disrupts your sleep as well. It’s common for sufferers to report difficulty falling and staying asleep due to pain, but restless leg syndrome is another condition that can lead to frequent sleep disruptions. This condition can occur while you’re sound asleep, waking you up multiple times in a single night.
It can also strike right as you start to relax your muscles and fade into sleep, preventing you from falling into a deep, restorative sleep state. Either way, you start your day feeling even more exhausted than you were at the start of the night.
The connection between fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome lies in the connection between overactive nerves and the neurological system as well. It can be associated with neurological disorders, and just like with other parts of the fibro body, restless leg syndrome can also be a result of over-active nerves, something you hear often when living with fibromyalgia, right?
There is no scientific proof that fibromyalgia will causes this condition in itself, but the connection is strong enough that all fibromyalgia patients should understand how to treat this symptom and sleep disruption it can cause, if and when it does occur.
Just as an epileptic seizure is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, restless leg syndrome is caused by abnormal activity in leg muscles. The legs simply want to move in awkward ways, and it typically occurs when your body is relaxed. You want to remain still and sleep, but your muscles decide it’s time to jerk, twitch, shake, or otherwise take action.
This creates a variety of uncomfortable sensations from burning and tingling to the sensation of something crawling over your skin. Like many fibromyalgia symptoms, different people report different symptoms. What they all have in common is the experience of their legs feeling and acting restless when their body is relaxed and still.
In my case, I also have restless feet and toes. I find this happens even more if I am not wearing shoes or if it is late at night or first thing in the morning. Sometimes I will go put my feet in a warm foot bath with salts and liquid magnesium and then massage them to help stop the feet and toes from wanting to move about. * (magnesium article link at bottom of this page)
Not all cases require treatment. If it is more of an occasional annoyance that you can overcome by moving to a new position or simply waiting for the restless activity to subside, then you may decide not to press for treatment options. You should still mention it to your doctor because there’s a chance that it’s a side effect of medications or supplements that you’re taking to control other fibromyalgia symptoms.
If your restless leg events occur frequently and leave you exhausted and unable to function, then you should experiment with treatment options. You can start by working with your doctor and checking for nutritional deficiencies. Be careful not to ingest stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime. They may also check you for other medical conditions known to cause restless legs or feet.
In case of any nutritional deficiencies, we want to be sure we are getting enough of the B-Complex family of vitamins, B-12 in the proper form, and magnesium (topical form is great) For B-12 in the most natural form, we like Methyl or Hydroxy form. (Avoid B12 in the form of Cynocobalamin)
You can also meet with a physical therapist to learn massage techniques that are proven to relax the leg muscles to stop the activity. Alternating hot and cold can be helpful, only to a tolerance of course. You may also try using an electrical stimulation device like a tens unit before bed .
I also recommend trying different forms of light compression. Often times people will say “won’t that hurt?” but light compression wear is designed to increase blood flow and circulation, so it can be helpful with restless legs and feet. It has been shown that wrapping the feet can be helpful in decreasing symptoms.
You may need to go through a sleep study before other various treatments are prescribed.
We also see a great correlation between exercise, movement and reducing the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
You see, sometimes when we are thinking about solutions to any symptom, we have to think in terms of how that symptom itself thinks. In a sense, how it displays itself. You get what I mean? What is that symptom saying to us? In the case of restless leg syndrome, it is saying “I want to move” “I need to move right now” So we have to beat it at it’s own game by giving it some kind of movement every day, whatever is right for each of us.
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