Restless Leg Syndrome & Chiropractic

Many of us have either experienced or know an individual who has restless leg syndrome (RLS). This is a condition in which the individual experiences an anxious feeling (sometimes subconsciously) and the urge to rapidly tap their foot or shake the leg occurs. Although this is not necessarily a painful condition it can impede an individual’s quality of life.

“Jimmy legs” is a term some people may be more familiar with when describing restless leg syndrome. This condition can range from mild to intolerable and if this is not treated then it can lead to sleep deprivation, stress and decreased alertness in the daytime. If left untreated, over a period of time RLS can become disabling.

Medical doctors tend to approach restless leg syndrome as it would insomnia as it disturbs sleep. Although prescription medication may enable sleeping, it does not address the cause of the anxiety. RLS is a disorder that is part of the nervous system that controls the movement of the leg muscles. Turning to chiropractic care means that the cause is determined and treated accordingly. The nerves that innervate the legs are the fattest and the longest in the body therefore making chiropractic care the only logical choice when seeking help.

Restless Leg Symptoms

RLS symptoms are brought on while an individual rests either sitting or lying down. The more comfortable the person becomes, the more likely the symptoms will occur. Oddly enough, the reverse is also true, when a person becomes uncomfortable RLS sets in.

Most patients report that there is often an uncomfortable sensation that occurs in the legs such as tingling, throbbing, itching, gnawing, burning and mild pain. These and other unpleasant sensations occur in the calves, thighs or feet and they generally occur while sitting or lying down. Some individuals state that there are no words to describe some of the sensations they feel.
It is common for a variety of these symptoms to fluctuate in severity and some individuals say that there are periods of times in which the symptoms disappear.

Although an RLS patient may describe a ‘cramping’ sensation it is important to determine that it is not a ‘real’ cramp which is a definite knotting of the muscle. However, restless leg syndrome can include severe local muscle pain.

Cause Of Restless Leg Syndrome

In most cases there are no specific causes for RLS. For some individuals, when RLS starts early in life, there is a heredity link.

Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the final trimester. Usually the symptoms disappear after giving birth.

Restless leg syndrome is not related to serious underlying medical conditions however it does accompany other medical conditions including peripheral neuropathy. This is when there is damage to the nerves in your feet and hands due to chronic diseases. Also, if a person has an iron deficiency RLS may occur (or worsen if RLS is already present). It is very important to never just start taking iron supplements until iron levels have been tested first.


Chiropractic treatment is a safe way to treat RLS. A chiropractor will extensively examine the patient which includes asking about medical history. A range of motion exercise test determines how well the skeletal system functions and the results are taken into consideration for treatment. In some cases an x-ray may be required to see if there are any skeletal injuries or impairments.

A spinal manipulation (or adjustment) may be done to help relieve stress that is on the joints and muscles in the leg.  Many patients find that after routine adjustments there is relief.

Other treatment options may include leg stretches, electro-micro current therapy and exercises that strengthen the pelvis, lumbo-sacral angle and the intervertebral discs. Treatment may also include the patient implementing a regular walking regimen to help.

For more information about treatment options to seek relief from restless leg syndrome, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre in Richmond Hill can help. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has a walk-in clinic conveniently located at 10144 Yonge Street, just north of Major MacKenzie Drive in the heart of Richmond Hill. Call 905-918-0419 for more information or to book a consultation.

March 10, 2014
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