Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition where a person feels the need to move their legs in order to get rid of an unpleasant sensation. They may need to get up and move around or walk to help alleviate the uncomfortable sensations. RLS is a condition that has no known cause or no known cure and usually affects middle aged and older adults, but may begin at any age. It can easily disrupt sleep patterns and cause you to feel drowsy and experience daytime sleepiness. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be able to offer relief for the symptoms and help build your body up to avoid or minimize future episodes.
The sensations in the leg may be characterized as:
RLS is made worse with stress or emotional upsets and usually occurs in the evening to night time, possibly lasting longer than one hour. The symptoms are usually better during the day and with movement.
There are no tests or x-rays that doctors can perform to check for RLS, but they may conduct blood tests to see if you have iron deficient anemia, which can be found in some sufferers of RLS. It may also be associated with other conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, as well as may be a side effect of other medications. It is also suspected that it may be hereditary in some patients. (You should check with your doctor if you suspect any of these is the case.)
The Western treatment of RLS consists of:
• Stretching exercises
• Warm baths
• Medications in some cases to relax the muscles and reduce stress
According to Chinese medicine, restless leg syndrome may be caused by a few different patterns of disharmony in the body, including:
• Blood Deficiency – when the blood is not able to nourish the muscles, tendons, and sinews properly.
• Qi Stagnation – when the body's Qi (energy) is not flowing through the meridians properly. Usually characterized by conditions that worsen with stress or emotional upsets and are better with stretching.
• Yin Deficiency – when the body's essence has been depleted and can sometimes be characterized by conditions that are worse at night.
Restless leg syndrome may by any one of these patterns or a combination of them. All of these patterns can be treated with specific acupuncture points on the body as well Chinese herbal formulas that can help nourish your blood, yin, as well as unblock your Qi. Both acupuncture and herbs can help reduce the sensations you experience in your legs as well as help return you to a sound night's sleep.