I’m no doctor, but as an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” practitioner I spend as much time researching medical cures as any board certified physician (not really, of course, but maybe), so I consider myself a queasy expert. Or is that quasi?
I used to laugh at the TV commercials for drugs to treat a condition I’d never even heard of called “Restless Leg Syndrome.” I thought, “Jeepers, the pharmaceutical companies have hit a new low. They’ve developed a drug for a leg twitch.” Maybe the restless leg couldn’t be controlled and started kicking the person in the grocery line in front of them, or caused men wearing suits to uncontrollably dance a jig at a meeting. I used to snicker and poke fun – until I got restless leg myself.
I’d be sitting watching TV when I got this sensation in my leg like it was about to twitch. It’s an annoying, odd feeling, not painful, just aggravating. Like the kid behind you kicking your seat on an airplane – it doesn’t hurt but it’s extremely irritating. So I’d get this sensation that my leg was going to move, and then I’d get the involuntary movement, or twitch, not really the best word but as close as I can come. The National Institute of Neurologic Disorders describes it a little better: Restless Leg Syndrome causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them.
Each episode lasted just a few seconds, then my leg would be calm until it came back, over and over and over again. One night I timed it and I got the sensation every seventeen seconds, and it lasted until I couldn’t take it anymore and stood up.
It started happening every night when I went to bed. I would lie there for a little bit, about to drift to sleep, and then get the sensation. It was a cycle of pre-twitch – twitch – calm – repeat until I nearly went insane. I Googled several times for a cure but all I could find were people begging for help – they’d been on restless leg medication for years, enduring the awful side effects of the drugs (flatulence, diarrhea, dizziness, growing extra toes, etc.) rather than have the uncomfortable sensations.
Late one night, when I was at a friend’s cabin and we were planning a big day of activities the next morning, and I really needed to get to sleep but couldn’t, I got my laptop out and read through page after page of people describing their suffering and asking if anyone knew a way to help when I came across someone who said, “Do this, it works.” I got out of bed and tried it, and it did work!
Here’s Part A of what you do, which will get rid of the sensations temporarily so you can sleep. Stand on your left leg (use your hand to balance against a wall) and do a small figure 8 with your right leg – a tight figure 8, the tighter the better. Repeat the figure 8 twenty-five times. It doesn’t matter which leg is restless, do this on the right leg. This will probably be enough, but you can also make a small figure 8 with your right arm after you finish with your leg.
I did the figure 8’s and got back under the covers and lay there like a kid waiting for the monster to come out from under the bed. A minute, two minutes – no restless leg. After about twenty minutes I was counting zzzzz’z, sleeping the deep sleep of the twitchless. No more restless leg that night! After that I would do the figure 8, sometimes on both legs and arms (for insurance) any time I got a the sensation. Worked 100% of the time for me.
Now for Part B of the cure. I was happy to get rid of the symptoms but wanted to know the cure, so I Googled and found several sites that said one of the causes was a lack of iron. Someone said no matter if you think you’re getting enough iron, take a supplement. After I started taking a low dose iron supplement, I no longer got restless leg. Ever. BUT there are health issues if you take too much iron, so you should do some research about how much you need and the best ways to get it, and be sure to check with your doctor if you’re taking other medications before adding iron.
Hope this helps you guys! And remember, I’m not a doctor so check with your physician or do your homework about the iron, do your figure 8’s, and have a very rest FULL day!