Healthy Living

Doctor’s Advice: Restless Leg Syndrome After 50

Do you ever have trouble sleeping because you just can’t keep your legs still at night? If you’re a women over the age of 50 there’s every chance you may have nodded your head upon reading that question, and also that the problem is having a major impact upon your life. Restless Leg Syndrome, to give it its’ technical name, is a condition which can effect anyone at any stage of their life, but which tends to be more common after middle age and is twice as likely to occur in women as it is in men.  The symptoms include an irresistible urge to move the legs and, in many cases, aches, pains and a disturbing sensation of creeping and crawling around the feet, thighs and calves. Although it can occur at any time of the day, the syndrome is often more prevalent at night and can lead to disturbed sleep and, therefore, a feeling of tiredness and lethargy throughout the next day.

It is this aspect of Restless Leg Syndrome which is one of the most disturbing. Although the name itself and a brief description might make it sound like something fairly trivial, the fact that it interferes with a person’s ability to sleep means that it can have an ongoing and detrimental effect upon their overall health and well-being, with one night’s disturbed sleep triggering the next, leaving the sufferer feeling exhausted and struggling to cope with everyday life.

The causes of Restless Leg Syndrome are still the subject of some debate in medical circles. Some doctors are of the opinion that the condition is brought about by the manner in which the brain processes the chemical dopamine, and in cases such as these prescription drugs are offered.

Other possible causes identified by some medical professionals include conditions such as iron deficiency, anemia, diabetes and kidney problems, in which cases the problems associated with Restless Leg can be treated as secondary symptoms of a wider problem.

What this range of possible causes underlines is the fact that any woman suffering the effects of Restless Leg should seek a diagnosis and treatment at the earliest opportunity. All too often women accept the effects of Restless Leg Syndrome as being just another of the inconveniences of growing older, feeling that the problem is ‘just one of those things’ that happens as you reach your 50s. This is wrong on two counts. Firstly, it ignores the fact that Restless Leg may be a warning sign of a deeper underlying problem and, secondly, it accepts that women aged over 50 should simply put up with limitations on their life and well-being. The truth is that you’ve got as much right to live a full life – and get a decent night’s sleep – as anyone else, and the fact that Restless Leg Syndrome may actually be caused by something as easily treatable as varicose veins means that the suffering and inconvenience it causes can be brought to an end quickly and simply.   

Recent studies have shown that some of the patients suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome are also affected by varicose veins in their legs, and that treatment of varicose veins, also known as venous disease, goes a long way towards alleviating the symptoms.

Whilst the relation between varicose veins and Restless Leg Syndrome is not one in which the former can be said to definitely cause the latter, the effectiveness of the treatment offered to women so far does indicate that a test for varicose veins should form part of the diagnostic procedure for any woman who visits her doctor complaining of Restless Leg Syndrome.

Although many women are fully aware of the fact that they have varicose veins, and wish to have them treated in order to restore the flawless appearance of their legs and prevent feelings of self-consciousness, the fact of the matter is that the problems responsible for varicose veins can be present without making themselves visibly apparent, and will only be identified through ultra-sound imaging. An ultra-sound examination is quick, pain-free and easy, and will immediately establish whether varicose veins are present in a woman who is coping with Restless Leg Syndrome.

In the past, treatment for varicose veins generally involved a local or general anesthetic and a surgical procedure, something which deterred many women from seeking treatment. Modern laser treatments, however, are non-invasive and can be carried out in a relaxed treatment room setting, with the patient able to return to work and most normal activities immediately.

If your nights are regularly blighted by Restless Leg Syndrome then it could well be that relief and proper sleep are merely a quick visit to the doctor away. Once varicose veins have been identified and treated, you’ll not only get your nights back, but you’ll also be able to relax in the knowledge that your legs look just as fantastic as you’d like them to.  

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