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Treating Varicose Veins May Help Manage Restless Legs Syndrome

If varicose veins and restless legs syndrome are both caused by venous insufficiency, the disorders can both be treated with a single procedure.

When you have varicose veins, the last thing you want is to experience even more discomfort in your legs. Unfortunately, varicose veins and restless legs syndrome (RLS) often go hand in hand. That’s because they can both be caused by an underlying chronic venous insufficiency. Luckily, that means that treatment of varicose veins can sometimes alleviate the symptoms of RLS, as well.

RLS and its Connection to Varicose Veins

RLS is a common disorder that can affect anyone from children to the elderly, though it is most common in middle and older age groups. In the U.S., around 10-15% of people have RLS. 

This common condition is characterized by painful or uncomfortable sensations in a person’s legs that are only reduced by moving the legs. The symptoms usually occur when a person is resting or otherwise inactive, and they typically get worse at night. The constant need to move the legs can get in the way of a person’s sleep and reduce their overall quality of life. 

Varicose veins are another common ailment that cause discomfort. The veins are caused by the valves in a person’s legs weakening or failing. As a result, the blood in the veins travels wherever gravity takes it, pooling in the veins and causing them to stretch and bulge. 

RLS and varicose veins are both considered symptoms of venous insufficiency. Because of that relationship, medical professionals have investigated whether treatment of varicose veins might have a positive impact on RLS. Both studies and personal accounts have shown that it can.

Treatment of RLS and Varicose Veins

The connection between varicose veins and RLS means that people who experience both will likely experience relief of their RLS symptoms if they proactively treat their varicose veins. Several studies have demonstrated this connection. 

The study that is referenced most frequently was conducted in 1995 and found both long- and short-term improvement of RLS symptoms after treatment of varicose veins. In the study, patients with both RLS and venous insufficiency were treated for their venous insufficiency. They found that 98% of participants experienced initial relief from their RLS symptoms and that 80% experienced long-term relief. Thanks to studies like this one, many physicians believe that treating the underlying vein problems of patients with RLS can lead to significant symptom relief.

There are three main treatments for venous insufficiency, all of which can also help patients manage RLS. Sclerotherapy, a procedure in which the veins are injected with a medicine that makes them shrink, is the most common treatment for varicose veins. This procedure does not require surgery and can be performed on an outpatient basis.  

Another treatment option is endovenous ablation. This is a minimally-invasive treatment that uses ultrasound-guided laser energy to combat varicose veins.  

The third option is microphlebectomy, in which several small incisions are made in the skin and the varicose vein is pulled out through them. This is a somewhat more invasive procedure that involves the complete removal of the varicose veins. 

If you have varicose veins and RLS due to venous insufficiency, treatment for varicose veins will likely improve your RLS symptoms. To figure out which treatment is right for you, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us at Siragusa Vein and Laser.

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