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Potential new therapy for restless legs syndrome

An adjustable foot wrap that puts pressure on two foot muscles may ease the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

A recent study showed the device to be 1.4 times as effective as standard drug therapy. Before getting too excited, it’s important to remember that standard drug therapy is not very effective for restless legs syndrome. It’s a condition that causes ongoing grief and frustration for many people.

Research suggests that up to 10 percent of Americans suffer with restless legs syndrome (RLS). It causes unpleasant sensations in the legs and feet and an overwhelming urge to move the legs. This occurs almost exclusively at night or during prolonged rest. The condition can cause significant sleep loss, which results in extreme fatigue, and in most cases depression and anxiety.

The conventional medical treatment of RLS involves the use of strong drugs called dopamine agonists. They increase the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body. Unfortunately they usually have some pretty terrible side effects such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and the drugs are addictive. Many patients can’t take them or experience inadequate relief from symptoms. The new device, which is not yet commercially available offers a much safer alternative.

Magnesium is a well known remedy for RLS because it relaxes the muscles of the body and helps to improve sleep quality. For some people magnesium doesn’t help enough though. Having low iron (low ferritin specifically) can cause restless legs syndrome, as can small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Anything that irritates and inflames the intestinal lining can compromise nutrient absorption and increase the risk of this condition.

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