Studying the Relationship Between Restless Leg Syndrome & Vein Insufficiency

When it’s time for bed after a long day, we all want a good night of sleep. For some, that quality rest is elusive due to an intense need to keep moving. Are you someone who gets an odd, creeping sensation to move your legs and arms at night? You may be experiencing restless leg syndrome. And if you have venous insufficiency as well, that may be a contributing factor to your difficulties staying still at night. For many, seeking treatment can minimize frustrating symptoms of restless leg syndrome. To get all the facts and to know when to visit a vein professional, read below.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

There isn’t always a correlation between restless leg syndrome and forms of venous insufficiency, such as varicose veins in the legs. The root of this condition is actually found in the brain. Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes your body to constantly feel uncomfortable. And, when we’re uncomfortable, it’s our natural impulse to move until we find a more comfortable position.

Those with restless leg syndrome feel this constant discomfort most often at night—the time when all we want to do is lie down and relax instead of tossing and turning in bed. This can be an understandable source of distress for many. We all need a good night’s sleep to function at our best, and a lack of sleep can lead to exhaustion and irritability.

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

We know restless leg syndrome is neurological. But what affects someone’s risk of developing it? There are various factors that determine your risk. Coincidentally, many of them also directly affect someone’s risk of varicose veins, explaining why people often experience both. These factors include:

  • Family history: Like many other health issues, restless legs can be genetic. If you have relatives with restless legs or poor veins, it’s possible that you may also develop them.
  • Pregnancy: While having children can be an exciting time, the hormone changes in pregnancy can raise the risk of developing restless legs or venous insufficiency.
  • Aging: As we get older, our bodies aren’t as resilient as they were when we were teens. Restless legs and weakening veins can be found often in older individuals.
  • Venous insufficiency or venous reflux: Poor vein health can cause the legs to feel irritated or restless, which is a contributing factor to these two conditions being found together.

For restless leg syndrome sufferers who also have varicose veins, can treating the veins help with restlessness? In many cases, treating veins does offer symptomatic relief from restless legs. Treating the veins may not necessarily get rid of your restless legs, but it could be enough relief to help you sleep at night. Let’s look a little deeper.

Varicose Veins and Restless Leg Syndrome

Many doctors believe varicose veins and other forms of venous insufficiency can, in some cases, be a cause of restless legs. While there are several reasons why people get varicose veins, the formation of these visible, sometimes painful veins are all related to one cause: non-functioning vein valves.

Vein valves are important because they keep your blood circulating properly, from your legs up toward the heart. Your veins work the hardest in the legs because they have to push blood upwards against the flow of gravity. But if the veins become weak or damaged, then blood will start to pool in the vein. This causes the vein to swell and a varicose vein is formed. Those with varicose veins often experience painful, heavy, or itchy legs.

Some individuals with varicose veins also experience restless legs. In these cases, there’s an easy way to minimize symptoms of restless legs: minimally invasive varicose vein treatment. Dr. Horowitz, a highly-skilled specialist at the Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center, notes that many patients who have undergone vein treatment have also experienced symptomatic relief from restless leg syndrome. Some patients have even been able to stop taking medicine for their restlessness.

Both Varicose Veins and Restless Leg Syndrome are Common

Painful, restless legs are much more common than you may think. Up to 15 percent of Americans are experiencing sleepless nights due to legs that just don’t want to stay still. And these high numbers exist for varicose veins as well—venous problems are one of the most chronic conditions in the country. Current estimates say that 20-25 million Americans have varicose veins. If you’re currently experiencing either of these conditions, you’re not as alone as you may feel. Chances are, you don’t have to look far to find someone who is also having trouble with their legs. Varicose veins, in some cases, are considered a cosmetic issue. While in other cases, it can be a sign of poor overall vein health.

If you’re one of the many struggling with restless legs and varicose veins, consider seeking venous treatment for several reasons. First, varicose veins that are left alone can potentially lead to more serious health concerns like blood clots and ulcers. Treating veins early is considerably less stressful than treating a blood clot—and you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful, pain-free legs again. Second, it’s likely that treating the veins could help calm your restless legs. Not only will you be confident in your legs again, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a well-deserved night of rest. Although common, if you are ever wondering whether it’s time to visit a specialist or not for you varicose veins, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dr. Horowitz, a highly-skilled vascular surgeon in Orlando, has dedicated his life and the focus of his practice to being an expert in minimally invasive vein therapy. From the very first phone call to our practice and throughout their vein therapy, our patients experience the difference that a team of the best vascular surgeons in Orlando can provide. If you want to learn more, contact us or read our blog for more information!