Drastically improved my RLS by doing ... - Restless Legs Syn...

Restless Legs Syndrome

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Drastically improved my RLS by doing 3 things


The 3 things are flight socks, a heat pad and stretching techniques.

The flight socks (compression socks) are by far the most important. So these go up about as far as my knees and they drastically improve any symptoms below the knees. You can also get supports to compress the thighs and hamstrings as well. The flight socks do lose their tightness quite quickly so you have to keep buying new ones maybe every week or so. Also sometimes with my older used flight socks I tie them as tight as I can around any area that is uncomfortable and this almost completely takes all of the uncomfortableness of my RLS away.

The heat pad is for my lower back. If I lie down then I will always get uncomfortable legs and have the need to move them. However, with a heat pad on my lower back, the need to move my legs greatly diminishes and sometimes even completely disappears.

I believe that the reason why the flight socks and the heat pad work is because my RLS is caused by poor circulation and I think that this is the result of a problem in my lower back.

I watched a documentary on RLS the other day and at some point every single sufferer featured in the documentary could be seen to be putting their feet at odd angles and putting their ankles under pressure to try and stretch their calf muscles. By stretching the muscle, you are aiding its circulation and so I believe that this is why it helps.

I have found that stretching an affected area can relieve the symptoms while it is being stretched but then very soon after (sometimes immediately) the uncomfortable feeling returns. Flight socks greatly aid circulation and can be worn comfortably during the day or night whenever needed and as often as needed and they have basically the same affect that you would get from stretching the muscles.

The third thing which helps me is stretching techniques for the lower back and hamstrings which can be found on youtube. These helped a bit in the short term and a bit more after several weeks and then after a few months there seemed to be a fair amount of improvement with both my back and my legs being less stiff and my RLS being less severe in general.

I have suffered from RLS for about 10 years (since age 21) and while the techniques that I have outlined aren't a cure, they make my quality of life, and particularly my sleep much better.

These techniques have really worked wonders for me and I really hope that they will help others as well.

If anyone has any questions or comments then please feel free to email me at philipdevlin39@yahoo.co.uk

22 Replies

Philip, thank you very much for posting and in such detail. I sometimes wear support stockings that go right up my legs. They can be a drag to get on but they do feel helpful. Have you tried layering one pair of socks over the other as they lose elasticity - you might get a bit longer out of them that way. I find stretching very helpful and have a routine I use in the middle of the night when all else has failed me that usually buys me a couple of hours of peace. You should have a look through the many posts on here to see if you find some other tips to help you with your rls.

In case you are not aware I will highlight the importance for most sufferers of making sure their iron levels are high. You should get a serum ferritin test at your GP and get the actual result (not just that you are 'normal' which is different for the general public - rls sufferers should be aiming to have their level at over 100). If you are below 100 it is helpful to take an iron supplement. Most on here like iron bisglycinate (aka gentle iron) which you can get in Holland and Barret. Also a large number of people find that magnesium supplements are helpful to their legs as are magnesium creams and rubs.

Hi. Thank you very much for the reply and advice.

I was diagnosed with an iron deficiency several years ago and after taking a supplement for a few months was then told that the levels "were normal". So I will definitely be having a look into this.

Ah yes; the famous ‘normal’. They tell me the same every single time I get my serum ferritin checked and my results have ranged from 22 to 126 or thereabouts. For rls we need the actual figure and ideally to get it up to over 100.

I got told over 200 ferritin levels

Am I wrong.

No i don’t think you are wrong. Some people get to over 300 after iv iron and find it helpful to their rls.

Most rls sufferers find that unless they keep topping up their iron it gradually reduces again and for most (though not all) lower iron levels mean worse symptoms so it is a question of continuallly taking a supplement.

You could take a look at some of the webinars on the rls section of the Johns Hopkins Medical website. These are doctors who are world leaders in the treatment of rls. They are very interesting on the subject of iron.

Smashing, thank you


Thanks for posting!

I like compression stockings as well! To help prolong their purpose I hand wash mine. I fill the sink with hot water, pour some detergent in, put the socks in, and let them soak for about 20 minutes before hanging them to dry.

philipdevlin39 in reply to Hidden

That's great, thanks for the tip.

Hidden in reply to philipdevlin39

You’re welcome!👍

We're all different. Heat gives me an immediate attack; stretching maybe makes it slightly milder, and compression stockings make it worse. I have to walk for 20 to 45 minutes and then sleep with an ice pack for a bad attack.

Ah right, I'm sorry to hear that.

Do you find that elevation helps at all? Before I started using compression socks I used to try to sleep with my legs elevated against a wall. It didn't really lead to a good sleep to be honest but my legs weren't uncomfortable when they were pointing upwards.

If you find that this helps then this may suggest a circulation problem. But maybe the compression stockings don't give enough pressure or cause your legs to heat up too much or something?

If having your legs elevated makes no difference then its probably just a completely different problem to mine.

Have you tried the heat in different places? Like different places up your spine?

I think that my problem is most likely caused by lower back tightness that causes bad circulation to my legs.

Where do you put the ice?

It probably won't make any difference but you could try putting it on your back to see if it does anything?

Good luck.

Elevated legs make no difference for me.

I have ice sheets that I keep in the freezer (bought on line for about $40.00 each.) I lay face down they are on the bed my legs rest on them. Or I lay on my side if the muscle on the side of calf is particularly bad that night.

For me, mothing beats walking for moderate to severe nights I walk around doing light chores till the attack passes. I take ice up with me and use for a lighter attack that often follows.

I inherited my RLS from my mother (now deceased). She died at the age of 89+ and suffered with RLS for as long as I can remember. Her thing was to have a lot of weight on her feet when she was in bed plus a heating pad. Sad thing is she and I never really discussed this problem, even tho we were both suffering from it. Ironic thing is that after suffering a mild? stroke 2 yrs before she died, she had severe leg/muscle spasms in her left leg only. To control this, the dr. put her on Neurotin (not FDA approved for RLS at that time) for the spasms. To make a long story short, after a time I noticed she was not requesting a lot of weight on her feet or the heating pad. When FDA approved the drug for RLS, it dawned on me that the drug had done its job, and relieved Mother of her RLS symptoms. Sad story, I tried it and the only thing it did for me was to make me stagger as if I was drunk.

Hi. I'm sorry to hear about your mother.

In a way maybe its good that Neurontin didn't work for you because if you were to use it long term it might be addictive and it can have a lot of nasty side effects.

I found that Tramadol totally stopped my RLS but it shouldn't be used long term unfortunately as that can be very addictive.

The thing that I find works the best for me is tying things around me legs. So I take a flight sock, and instead of putting it on, I stretch it around my leg on either the thigh or around the calf/shin, and tie it as tight as possible and I do this in several places on both legs (wherever I am feeling uncomfortable). This works wonders for me.

Philip, isn't tramadol a pain medication? If you don't mind, explain to me exactly what it does for you? I don't experience "pain" with my RLS. However, if it would help me sleep, that would be great. There are so many suggestions mentioned in this venue it gets confusing after a while. Would like to purge my body of all the crap and start all over.

Opiates (tramadol is an opioid - a synthetic opiate) have been used to treat rls since the C16th and possibly even longer ago. They continue to be used in very many cases for chronic severe rls where other treatments have failed. They are a viable and effective long term option for many. The incidence of abuse of opioids by those prescribed them for rls is exceptionally low. There are numerous people posting in this forum whose lives would be miserable without tramadol.

Ah right, I didn't know that.

I found that while it helped my RLS immensely, I did get a lot of other side effects from it and I started to feel a bit depressed on any days when I hadn't taken any which was probably a sign of an addiction building.

From my experience, I would try and stay away from them as in the long run they could cause more harm than good.

I had a terrible reaction to tramadol... vertigo with my vision going circular like an old timey projector. At this point, my doc wont let me use opiods or klonapin because of my heart/ respiratory issues (I'm on oxygen at night). So i think once I'm off miripex, it will be either lyrica or gabapentin and getting my ferritin level up

Hopefully lyrica/gabapentin will work well for you. Definitely worth focusing on getting iron levels high also. Your reaction to tramadol sounds scary. I have never tried it myself. I had great success with OxyContin but discontinued it eventually and manage my rls with a cocktail of othervdrugs at a low dose. I do occasionally use Kratom though.

I've been reading about krakom. Thank you so much for the encouragement. What is your cocktail of meds?

It is a very strong pain medication.

I wouldn't call my RLS pain exactly but it is uncomfortable. Any uncomfortable feelings in my legs (mostly) go away when on pain medication and I feel totally relaxed.

I have had Codeine and Tramadol prescribed as a result of separate injuries sustained over the last 6 years. One was to my knee and the other was a back injury.

I wouldn't recommend this type of medication though because it can be very addictive and its not suitable for long term use because of its side effects. Also it needs to be prescribed and it is unlikely that a doctor would prescribe someone these types of medications without evidence as a lot of people are addicted to them.

So for example, they might prescribe them for a badly broken bone (that can be seen on an x-ray) but they probably wouldn't prescribe them for RLS as it isn't really possible to prove that someone has it.

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