Restless legs

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An irresistible urge to move the legs is the main characteristic of the disorder known as Restless Leg Syndrome.

Also called



A feeling sometimes described as like insects crawling inside the legs, the discomfort caused by RLS may also be referred to as tugging, burning, jittery or tingling.

As you'll see below there are a variety of ways the symptoms can be experienced.
  • Ranging from discomfort to pain, the symptoms tend to be felt deep in the calves, though occasionally may be felt in other parts of the lower limb or in the arms
  • The sufferer is overwhelmed by a desire to stand up or move around when lying or sitting and although this movement temporarily relieves the uncomfortable feeling in the legs, the situation also makes it difficult to rest or sleep
  • Many patients have noted a twitching of the leg muscles during sleep. As this may occur every five seconds, these spasms severely interfere with sleep, and cause fatigue
  • RLS is often mistaken for a variety of other disorders, including stress, insomnia and muscle cramps, making it common for symptoms to be present for many years before the condition is diagnosed
Some experience the symptoms of restless legs syndrome very rarely and may be RLS-free for weeks and even months at a time.


Although not conclusively established as the cause of RLS, an imbalance in the neurotransmitter dopamine (which helps muscle movement control) could possibly contribute to the disorder.

Some other contributing factors may be:
  • Genetics play a part in as many as 50% of RLS cases
  • Iron deficiency
  • RLS can develop in the latter stages of pregnancy, resolving approximately a month after birth. Women who already suffer from restless legs syndrome have been known to experience a worsening of the condition during pregnancy
  • Patients with peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage affecting the hands and feet), kidney failure and Parkinson’s disease can be prone to experience RLS
Symptoms can also be aggravated by such factors as:
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Stress
  • Some medications including those used to treat digestion problems, depression, nausea and high blood pressure

Diet and lifestyle

Restless Leg System can be helped by taking steps to manage stress levels, as stress can aggravate the symptoms. Modify lifestyle in the following ways to reduce stress:
  • Practice meditation or yoga, especially right before bedtime to put you in a relaxed state ready for sleep
  • Burning the candle at both ends can exacerbate the symptoms of RLS and going to bed at a regular time, in a relaxing and peaceful environment may help alleviate the condition
  • A nice long soak in a warm bath accompanied by a leg massage can promote muscle relaxation and may help you achieve a deep restful sleep
  • Alternating hot and cold packs on your legs can help but don’t apply a cold pack for more than ten minutes at a time
  • Experts recommend about 30 minutes of moderate exercise on all or most days of the week. This kind of moderate, regular (but not excessive) exercise can have a positive effect on RLS. It is best not to start a new fitness regime without first consulting your doctor or healthcare professional
  • Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco should all be avoided

Important notes

  • It is also important to note that any concerns you have about prescribed medicine causing or contributing to your restless legs syndrome should be discussed with your doctor
  • If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional
Get free personalised advice from our team of qualified naturopaths here

Get free personalised advice from our team of qualified naturopaths here

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Try paravin/para on forte can buy over counter at the chemist really works takes a few dys
I have suffered RLS for many years & have tried different medications I am now on sifrol but lately it seems not to work glad to hear that iron & potassium may help I will try them & hope I can get some rest especialy at night
A cold compress will give immediate relief from restless leg syndrome. Never use hot water bottles or warm baths, they only make it worse. A flannel rinsed in cold water and rung out wipe over the leg or legs, then try sleeping with the flannel draped over knee or ankles.
Anonymous 03 Jul 2015
Be careful taking magnesium as. This caused my kidney stones
Hi, I too have suffered RLS each and every night to the point that it went from one leg/foot to both then to both hands as well
Once this happened I was lucky to get one hours sleep per night
I had tried the magnesium and iron to no avail. In desperation I saw my doctor who agreed to prescribe Sifrol, after I had been suffering RLS for 35 years. This has been my savour. After using this for a year it's effectiveness was reduced. I tried once again to find an answer.
I have always liked Blackmores Liprinol and have found that this has greatly reduced my RLS Although I started taking it for another reason. I will now use liprinol indefinately. Rosemarie
My husband suffers this every night of course we both suffer it. He smokes, drinks about 6 cups of bushels tea each day as well as a bit of fizzy cordial but he has reduced this quite a bit. He has high blood pressure and takes 16mg atacand daily along with paradeine with codeine for back pain and he also an aneurysm in his stomach region. He is in constant pain doesn't work like have a job. And can't sleep cause RLS please help!!! Would magnesium help? Frustrated!!
Excellent information
Anonymous 09 Mar 2015
Dear Karen,
I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing this unpleasant syndrome every night. Both iron and magnesium are specifically indicated for restless leg syndrome , please bear in mind that reaching optimal levels of these nutrients may take some time to achieve. I hope you continue to feel better on your current protocol and please let us know if we can assist you any further by calling the Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800 803 760 or email Kind regards, Rebekah (a Blackmores naturopath)