Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
Lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms which causes people with RLS to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue. Many people with RLS report that their job, personal relations, and activities of daily living are strongly affected as a result of their sleep deprivation. They are often unable to concentrate, have impaired memory, or fail to accomplish daily tasks. It also can make traveling difficult and can cause depression.
Until recently, there were various competing theories as to the causes of RLS. Prominent theories included:
- Iron deficiency;
- Dopamine dysregulation;
- Chronic diseases-kidney failure, diabetes & peripheral neuropathy;
- Certain medications;
New research, however, indicates that although the above conditions are highly associated with Restless Leg Syndrome, it is underlying chronic inflammation that is causing these conditions in addition to the RLS. Therefore, RLS and the above conditions are actually concurrent side effects of underlying, chronic inflammation.
Groundbreaking research conducted in 2012 revealed “The fact that 95% of the 38 highly-associated RLS conditions are also associated with inflammatory/immune changes suggests the possibility that RLS may be mediated or affected through these mechanisms. Inflammation can be responsible for iron deficiency and hypothetically could cause central nervous system iron deficiency-induced RLS. Alternatively, an immune reaction to gastrointestinal bacteria or other antigens may hypothetically cause RLS by a direct immunological attack on the central or peripheral nervous system.” (1)
Current research suggests that inflammation is the root cause of RLS, as well as the concurrent conditions (once thought to be the source of RLS).
- The inflammation causing RLS can also affect iron levels. The scientific community agrees that inflammation can affect iron levels (2). The causality is often confused here: low iron appears to be one of the guilty parties when it comes to RLS symptoms but it is inflammation that is causing the low iron levels. Increasing iron levels will improve RLS symptoms, but addressing the underlying inflammation can actually cure the condition.
- Dopamine imbalance and RLS are both caused by inflammation. There are many scientific studies that show that a dopamine imbalance can be due to either low iron levels or caused directly from inflammation (3) (4). Increasing dopamine levels helps with the symptoms, but does not deal with the actual cause. The inflammation that is causing the dopamine imbalance must be dealt with directly if the levels are ever to stabilize.
- Infection causes chronic inflammation throughout the body and RLS is simply a “biomarker” revealing the high inflammation.
- Chronic conditions such as kidney failure and diabetes are associated with high inflammation throughout the body which then causes the RLS;
- Medications hypothesized to cause RLS are known to increase inflammation;
- RLS is caused by the higher inflammation found in pregnant women. Many scientific studies show that RLS symptoms are at their worst in the third trimester of pregnancy (5).Studies also show that inflammation levels tend to be higher in pregnant women, especially the third trimester (6).
At ChillRx, we have developed a treatment program to address Restless Leg Syndrome without the use of drugs. Pharmaceutical treatment for RLS comes with significant side effects. Our treatment program utilizes whole body cryotherapy to reduce systemic inflammation throughout the body. We see a dramatic improvement in symptoms related to RLS:
- pain and tingling is reduced;
- mental and physical energy increases;
- healthy sleep is restored.
Clinical trials show that whole body cryotherapy reduces inflammation by activating anti-inflammatory processes in the body. These processes include the anti-inflammatory effects of vasoconstriction and bio-chemical responses to cold.
We have experience treating clients with Restless Leg Syndrome and are confident that we can help you! We offer many treatment options to fit in with your budget and schedule. We are open 7 days a week to ensure that you receive the most effective, efficient and reliable cryotherapy treatment. Our cryotechnicians are trained in the technology of cryotherapy—but also in the biological science. ChillRx offers the most safe and effective cryotherapy for Restless Leg Syndrome and a host of other inflammatory-related health conditions and injuries.
(1) Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Aug;16(4):341-54. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.09.003. Epub 2012 Jan 17.
Restless legs syndrome–theoretical roles of inflammatory and immune mechanisms.
(2) Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Chiari et al 1995 Influence of Acute Inflammation on Iron and Nutritional Status Indexes in Older Inpatients
(3) Journal of Sleep Research : Mizuno et al 2004 CSF iron, ferritin and transferrin levels in restless legs syndrome
(4) J Neurochem. 2007 Mar;100(5):1375-86. Epub 2007 Jan 23.
Inflammation induces mitochondrial dysfunction and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in the nigrostriatal system.Hunter RL1, Dragicevic N, Seifert K, Choi DY, Liu M, Kim HC, Cass WA, Sullivan PG, Bing G.
(5) “A common sleep disorder in pregnancy: Restless legs syndrome and its predictors.” Balendran J, Champion D, Jaaniste T, Welsh A. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 Jun;51(3):262-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2011.01294.x. Epub 2011 Mar 16.
(6) 2008 Jul;149(7):3470-7. doi: 10.1210/en.2007-1695. Epub 2008 Mar 27.
Prokineticin-1: a novel mediator of the inflammatory response in third-trimester human placenta.