What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs in an attempt to reduce an uncomfortable sensation. Moving the leg temporarily eases the unpleasant feeling.
It most commonly occurs at night and may be particularly annoying if you are in bed struggling to get to sleep. Symptoms usually may occur in both legs but may occur in one leg more than the other, and may also involve the upper limbs and body.
RLS is often neglected by patients and rarely diagnosed by doctors but is important because it can lead to significant impairment in quality of life for sufferers especially if severe.
Download Dr Matar’s Article “Restless Legs: The Untold Story” as seen in MedForum Magazine March 2021
Symptoms Of Restless Legs
If you experience the following symptoms, it’s important to see a vein specialist.
- Uncontrollable Urge to Stretch & Move Legs
- Aching & Throbbing Sensations
- Itchy Legs
- A Creeping or Crawling Sensation
What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs can be a symptom of underlying vein problems. A possible cause of restless legs could be venous insufficiency.
Venous reflux occurs when the valves in your leg veins are no longer working as they should. The valves regulate the blood flow so the blood is sent back upwards to the heart. When some of these valves are leaky, a pool of blood is formed in your legs, and this may result in bulging veins.
In a study presented at the Australasian College of Phlebology Scientific Meeting (7 May 2019), 40% of patients presenting for management of venous disease suffered from restless legs. The study highlighted that research into restless legs has previously focused on neurological conditions and that many doctors are unaware of the connection between vein disease and restless legs.
Now a detailed venous ultrasound is recommended as the first investigation prior to deciding on treatment.
What Can Be Done to Treat Restless Legs?
The first step to finding a cause for your restless legs is to book a consultation for an ultrasound and clinical assessment.
For patients where venous insufficiency is found, 80% experienced an improvement in restless leg symptoms following treatment. There is no need to go on suffering when vein treatment could be a solution. We want to help you get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan to address this often overlooked medical condition.
Head to our booking page to find out what to expect in a consultation and what you need to bring.
Our Approach to Treatment
Treatment of large malfunctioning veins (trunk)
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLA) to great, small, and/or anterior accessory saphenous veins. 60 minutes
Treatment of large varicose veins (branches)
Phlebectomy removal of larger bulging varicose veins 90-120 minutescombined with
Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS) on smaller veins. 30 minutes
Treatment of small varicose veins (branches) if required
Extra sessions of UGFS to close smaller veins if identified as required at post-treatment follow-up scan 30 minutes
You may not require this stage.
Optional treatment surface veins (leaves)
Usually done by Microsclerotherapy 30 minutes
Most patients require multiple treatment sessions to remove spider veins.
Follow up and maintenance to ensure best results
Experiencing Other Symptoms?
The below symptoms can also indicate underlying vein problems. If you are experiencing any of these combined with restless legs let us know in your consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I have varicose veins?
Most varicose vein issues are hereditary. If you have one parent with varicose veins your risk of having them is around 65%. If both parents are affected the risk rises to approximately 90%. Another main risk factor for women is pregnancy, with the risk increasing with each additional pregnancy. Standing occupations such as hairdressers, nurses, and chefs also have a high risk of varicose veins as gravity puts pressure on the veins and weakens them.
How do I prevent varicose veins?
Once varicose veins are present, they will not resolve of their own accord. Measures to reduce the rate of progression include maintaining a normal healthy weight and going for regular walks of 20-30 minutes per day. Reducing the length of time spent on the feet in a stationary position may help and alternating between standing and sitting positions during the day will also reduce the pressure on the veins.
What will happen if I don’t treat these veins?
Generally, without treatment, varicose veins will get progressively worse over time. Symptoms may occur such as heaviness, ache, pain, and tiredness in the legs towards the end of the day. Further progression may result in leg swelling, itch, skin discolouration, and eventual skin ulceration. Blood clots related to superficial venous thrombosis may also occur in severe cases and can lead to the more serious condition of Deep Vein Thrombosis.
What treatment options exist?
Outdated, old-fashioned options such as surgical stripping are rapidly becoming obsolete due to poor long-term success, with recurrence rates of up to 50%. Modern treatment options include endovenous laser ablation, sclerotherapy injections, and ultrasound-guided ambulatory phlebectomy. In many cases a combination of different treatments will give the best long-term results.
Will the veins come back after treatment?
Many people are concerned that the treatment will be of limited value because the veins will just come back. This was certainly the case in the days of surgical stripping with a 50% recurrence rate at 5 years; however, using the latest minimally invasive techniques, we can reduce the risk of recurrent varicose veins to the baseline risk of approximately 3% per year.
What is the downtime following treatment?
This depends on the type of procedure performed and the severity of the veins being treated. Modern treatment with laser can involve no time off work and approximately two weeks off heavy gym work and four weeks off international travel.
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