Restless Leg Syndrome is a poorly understood neurologic condition in which unpleasant sensations such as burning or crawling feelings in the legs are made worse by rest or inactivity. It is usually relieved with movement and sometimes associated with twisting or jerking of the legs during sleep. Although it is sometimes reported to be present in as high as 15% of the population, it is often under diagnosed or misdiagnosed.
For the purposes of this article, we would like to know if it is associated with varicose veins and if fixing the abnormal veins will result in improvement or cure. The short answer is that if you have restless legs and also varicose veins, fixing the vein problem will often help. A study by Kantor in 1995 showed that sclerotherapy (injection of the veins alone) helped 98% of those studied. McDonough in 2002 found 100% of his patients studied with varicose veins and restless legs were helped when the veins were fixed. McDonough, King and Gupta in 2007 found that 91% of patients with restless legs had a vein disorder. One hypothesis is that venous congestion or high pressures is often associated with restless leg syndrome and that relieving that congestion with vein treatments is often helpful.
But veins alone are not the only cause of restless leg syndrome in every case. Genetics, iron deficiency anemia, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disease and pregnancy are also known to be associated with restless legs even though no problems with leg veins can be proven in these cases.
There is an FDA approved dopamine agonist drug that in some circumstances can be helpful. However, there are risks after taking it as with any medication and it can be addictive. It is also expensive.
The final word is that if you have restless leg syndrome and varicose veins, seek out help from a qualified board certified vascular surgeon with experience in this area. Relief may be as simple as treating your abnormal veins. Call Dr. Happel at 724-969-0600 to find out if you are a candidate for vein treatments for this problem.