The cause of restless leg syndrome (RLS) is unknown but it appears to have multiple causes. Symptoms of RLS include: abnormal sensations of creepiness which is only relieved by moving the legs, irresistible urge to move legs, persistent leg movements during sleep, sleep difficulty, tingling, burning, aching, and numbness. Venous insufficiency can also cause very similar symptoms. Recent medical research shows that 22% of patients with RLS also have venous insufficiency.
Most RLS is treated with dopamine agonist medication such as mirapex. Approximately 80% of patients have long lasting relief of symptoms by taking a medication everyday such as mirapex or similar medications. However, a small percentage has worsening of their symptoms (augmentation of their symptoms). There can be other side effects related to the medication such as: blood pressure dropping upon standing, drowsiness, hallucinations, voluntary movement difficulties, double vision, and compulsive behaviors. Most patients would much rather have a single intervention that could relieve their symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Venous insufficiency, which is caused by back flow in the veins in the legs, is also a common cause of restlessness in the legs. Venous insufficiency can be well treated with a laser to close the backward flowing veins. New medical research has shown that the treatment of venous insufficiency can cure the symptoms of RLS. In fact in patient with RLS and venous insufficiency, 98% had relief of their symptoms of RLS by treating their venous insufficiency and 80% of patients the relief was long term [> 2ys]. In light of this new information it makes sense for patients who have symptoms of restlessness in their legs to be evaluated for venous insufficiency with a simple ultrasound test. If found the treatment of venous insufficiency has the best chance of complete relief of symptoms.
Dermatol Surg. 1995 Apr;21(4):328-32.
PMID: 7728485 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related ArticlesRopinirole as a Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome in Patients on Chronic Hemodialysis. Clin Neuropharmacol. Vol 27, Number 4, July- August 2004.  The effect of endovenous laser ablation on restless legs syndrome.
Hayes CA, Kingsley JR, Hamby KR, Carlow J.
PMID: 18467618 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]