Who Treats Restless Legs?
Restless Legs, also known as RLS, is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move your legs. It can cause irritating sensations across the legs and feet. The sensation can also appear in the arms, chest, and face. Restless legs may be serious, but the good news is that it can be managed and treated. The feelings caused by restless legs syndrome have been described in a number of ways, with the following being the most common:
A creepy-crawly sensation in the legs
Throbbing, itching, burning, and tingling sensations
Painful cramping sensations in the legs and calves
A feeling of bubbly water inside the blood vessels
The sensations of restless legs are felt on a mild to severe level. These symptoms can often be alleviated by rubbing and moving legs. As with any medical condition, your first port of call should always be your primary care doctor. Your primary doctor can refer you to the other specialists that can help, including neurologists and sleep medicine doctors.
Restless legs syndrome is characterized by the irritating sensations it causes. People with the condition have the overwhelming urge to move their legs. Moving your legs may help to alleviate the sensations and drive away the need to constantly move your legs. If the symptoms set in at night and during periods of rest, then it’s likely you could be suffering from restless legs syndrome. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the condition if you are worried you have it. Some people are worried that their doctor might not take them seriously, so they are afraid to bring it up. You should never be afraid that your doctor won’t believe you or take you seriously.
Specialists Involved in the Treatment of Restless Legs
Several professionals are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of restless legs syndrome, including:
Primary Care Doctors
Your primary care doctor can diagnose your restless legs syndrome and offer some basic treatments. The process of diagnosing the condition is relatively simple. Your doctor can tell if you have RLS or not by performing a physical exam, taking a look at your previous medical and family history, and potentially running a blood test or sleep study. Your primary care doctor may:
Use a physical examination to check for the signs and symptoms of other conditions that are similar to restless legs or otherwise connected to it
Ask you for more information about the symptoms and how they affect you
Run blood tests to check for iron deficiencies and anemia
Ask about your family history of restless legs
Sleep Medicine Specialist
Your doctor may recommend that you take part in a sleep study to get a more accurate diagnosis. This will mean having to spend the night in a lab while a specialist monitors your sleep. The people at the lab monitor your sleeping habits and how much you move during sleep, among other things. A specialist takes a look at the data from the study and provides a detailed report about their findings. Sleep studies are convenient because;
The affected person could have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, which is one of the key symptoms of having RLS
A sleeping patient can move their legs for up to 30 seconds at a time, and all movements will be monitored during the study
Most people with RLS experience some kind of involuntary limb movement while sleeping, which can be identfied with a sleep study
Your primary care doctor may refer you to a neurologist. Neurologists are experts when it comes to the nervous system and diseases that affect it. It’s possible that you could have an underlying neurological condition that is contributing to the RLS. Neurologists can find these conditions and treat them. They will look for:
Patients with Parkinson’s Disease are more likely to develop restless legs syndrome as well.
Peripheral nerve damage
Peripheral nerve damage can make RLS attacks more frequent. Neurologists will have a good understanding of potential RLS treatments. They may recommend that you take anti-seizure medications or medications for Parkinson’s Disease. Doctors are unsure of the exact reason for restless legs syndrome, which is why taking time to treat underlying conditions can be so beneficial.
What to do if You Think You Have Restless Legs
Doctors consider restless legs syndrome to be a chronic condition. If you believe that you might have it, then the first thing to do would be to talk to your doctor. Given that restless legs syndrome has neurological roots, they may send you to see a neurologist. Your doctor may also want you to participate in a sleep study for a better diagnosis.
In the meantime, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to better manage the condition at home. Establish a robust sleeping schedule where you wake up and go to bed at the same time each day; cut back on alcohol and tobacco; avoid eating heavy meals at night; and get regular leg massages.
Your doctor will be able to recommend any kind of medication that you might need to take to control the condition. They will work with you to determine the best course of action to take for your individual case.