Written By: Emma Squillace
Restless Leg Syndrome is a frustrating and uncomfortable condition that affects an estimated 10% of the US. While some people with Restless Leg Syndrome have only mild symptoms, others have moderate to severe symptoms that interfere with their lives. People often ask if Restless Leg Syndrome is related to varicose veins. While these 2 health conditions are different, there are some links between them.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition where people feel a “pins and needles” feeling in their legs, that makes them unable to rest with their legs still. People with RLS describe a need to move their legs in response to this uncomfortable feeling. Most people with RLS find their symptoms are worse at night, which can prevent a good night’s sleep. RLS is even categorized as a sleep disorder, because of the extent that this condition can interfere with normal sleep.
Who gets Restless Leg Syndrome?
Anyone can get Restless Leg Syndrome, although it is more commonly seen in women. Patients tend to be middle-aged or older, and often have a family member who also has RLS. Because there is no single test for RLS, it can be difficult to diagnose. Most doctors diagnose RLS after extensive discussion with the patient about their symptoms.
Can varicose veins cause Restless Leg Syndrome?
The relationship between varicose veins and RLS is complex. One on hand, research shows a clear correlation between people who have varicose veins and people who suffer from RLS. However, not everyone who has varicose veins will have RLS symptoms. Likewise, not every person with RLS has varicose veins.
One important connection is that both varicose veins and RLS can have worsening symptoms at night, and both may cause you to have trouble sleeping.
What do your legs feel like at night if you have varicose veins?
Different people have different symptoms from their varicose veins, but it is very common that varicose veins will cause an uncomfortable, heavy, throbbing feeling in the legs. These varicose vein symptoms can make RLS symptoms even worse. Some people with varicose veins also report itching and burning in their legs – often at night, but also during the day. It can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are caused by RLS or varicose veins. If you have visible veins in your legs, especially ones that are raised or visibly twisted under your skin, it’s likely that you have varicose veins. These veins may be aggravating Restless Leg Syndrome.
Can Restless Leg Syndrome be cured?
There is no ‘cure’ for Restless Leg Syndrome, but there are a variety of options for treating the symptoms. Some of these options include lifestyle changes such as:
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
- Avoiding high heels
- Resting & elevating your legs regularly
There are also medicinal treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome that include pain relievers or anticonvulsant medication. Restless Leg Syndrome does not have a cure, but if your symptoms are made worse by varicose veins, you do have treatment options.
Can varicose veins be cured?
Unlike RLS which does not have a definitive way to cure it, you can get rid of a varicose vein by treating it with minimally invasive options. A varicose vein can be removed with a treatment option called microphlebectomy, or collapsed with an injectable treatment called sclerotherapy. Varicose veins are also often successfully treated with lasers. In the case of your night-time discomfort being caused by varicose veins, having the vein removed or collapsed can bring an end to your symptoms. For patients who have both RLS and varicose veins, many of them report an improvement in overall comfort at night, after treating the varicose vein.
If you have symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome and varicose veins, you may benefit from a consultation with our vein experts. While there is no “cure” for RLS, there are several treatment options for varicose veins. Remember a varicose vein cannot be cured without medical treatment, so if you have heavy, aching legs, itchy skin that will not heal, and visible veins in your legs, varicose vein treatment may be a good option for you. Call us at to speak to our helpful team members at (855) 690-0565.