Question: What causes restless leg syndrome? What can I do about it?
Dr. Brownstein's Answer:
Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder in which patients feel discomfort or pain in the body. Most of the discomfort occurs in the legs. Patients suffering from restless legs generally experience more discomfort when they are lying down. Usually, movement such as walking will alleviate the discomfort.
Nobody knows the exact cause of restless legs. There is no drug that is effective for this condition. Some doctors prescribe anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, or pain medications. However, these therapies can be hit-or-miss with patients.
For patients who have restless legs along with iron deficiency, using iron supplements can help. However, iron only works for this condition when a patient’s iron level (ferritin) is less than 50 ng/mL.
Cleaning up the diet and removing refined foods, especially, has been shown to help.
Furthermore, I have seen patients who improve their restless legs when they avoid dairy and gluten. Exercise also helps patients suffering with restless legs. Finally, it is vitally important to maintain adequate hydration.
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