As a young child, I had aching, throbbing, twitching legs, but never understood what caused it. As I moved into high school and college, I still had aching legs, but associated it with over-tiredness from playing sports, or from working on my feet for long hours.
Now, when I look back, I’m sure it was restless leg syndrome (RLS). I normally suffer with RLS nearly two nights a week. There are time periods when it won’t occur for weeks, but then several treacherous nights follow.
Pregnancy brought on RLS
Although I wasn’t diagnosed with restless leg syndrome when younger it presented itself in full force when I became pregnant. I owned a business and was on my feet a lot, but I felt good, until bedtime. As soon as I laid down my legs twitched and throbbed. RLS caused sleep deprivation and created a viscous cycle of exhaustion. I was exhausted during the day, and couldn’t sleep at night. Since I was pregnant there were no recommendations to help alleviate the pain of restless leg syndrome.
Pay attention to RLS precursors
Now that I know what restless leg syndrome is I know what signs to look for. Before, I struggled at night, and tossed and turned, completely miserable. Now I take preventatiive measures when I feel an episode coming on. For example, I work early in the morning, and when I leave work at 10:00 a.m. if my legs are already tired I know there’s a long night ahead. In this scenario I nap to help overcome fatigue. When this doesn’t work I use modern day pain relief therapy.
Topical analgesics and massage work wonders
When my legs are tired I use different topical analgesics like BIOFREEZE, Ben Gay, Tiger Balm and Woodlock. When applying them to my legs I massage my legs well. I often spend several minutes on each leg and reapply if necessary.
Over the counter pain medication
I’ve never been given pain medicine from my doctor for RLS, but he recommends using Ibuprofen for the days that my restless leg syndrome is out of control. I only do this when the topical analgesics and massage don’t work.
Use the foam roller
When I need Ibuprofen, a topical analgesic and massage, I know it’s time to use the foam roller. Foam rolling really helps. It offers a deeper massage on my twitching legs. I begin by sitting on it, and rolling the backs of my legs; then my Iliotibial bands (IT). After, I roll my quads (tops of thighs). Once my legs are foam rolled I place the roller under my quads and lie on it. I use the pressure to massage my legs without moving. This process takes 10 to 15 minutes and it makes living with RLS manageable.