Article in Body and Soul
I am a 54-year-old woman and for the past three years I’ve had restless legs at night. What is causing this and are there any effective treatments?
Restless legs is an insatiable urge to move your legs, usually during rest or inactivity and it can be extremely annoying, especially when you are trying to get to sleep.
This syndrome affects around one in 10 people, and is more common in women and as we get older. It also tends to run in families.
Although we still don’t understand the cause in the majority of people, in a small percentage it can be explained by iron deficiency, kidney or thyroid conditions, fibromyalgia, diabetes or pregnancy.
The treatment depends on the cause but often the first step is to rule out any serious conditions by having some blood tests which can be arranged by your GP.
Common general treatments include abstaining from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Compression stockings may help, along with stretching and distraction exercises. There are certain medications used in more severe restless legs syndrome cases but these need to be prescribed by your GP.