Successful Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is defined as, “an irresistible urge to move one’s body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations.” For most people this sensation or movement is usually in the feet or legs, but it can affect other areas of the body as well. For many people RLS can interfere with daily life, especially sleep. The intensity of the symptoms can range from a minor annoyance to intense pain.
If you have been suffering from these symptoms, with or without a specific diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome, you should know that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have been shown to help. In fact, RLS appears in Chinese Medical texts as far back as 1798 in the text Systemic Differentiation of Warm Disease.
How Do You Know If You Have Restless Legs Syndrome?
If you find that you are woken up at night and find that your Legs are uncontrollably moving then there are three common characteristics that you can look out for to determine if you might have Restless Legs Syndrome.
1. Your symptoms are more severe at night
2. You develop an irresistible urge to move
3. The sensations of feeling the need to move happens during periods of non-movement
Restless Legs Syndrome often interferes with Sleep
Since Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms are usually worse at night, and because people are often woken up due to the sensations that they experience it is easy to understand why people with RLS suffer from poor sleep. If Restless Legs Symptoms occur over a long period of time then having poor sleep on a regular basis can easily compound and easily affect people’s performance during their waking hours. Sleep studies show that people with Restless Leg Syndrome can’t maintain deeper stages of sleep for as long as people without RLS.
Does Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Help Restless Legs Syndrome?
In our years of experience we have seen over 100 cases of RLS, and most people notice a significant improvement (70% or more) in their symptoms. Studies done on the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome with Acupuncture have shown similar results.
In one study titled, “Observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture on Restless Legs Syndrome” 158 RLS patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. Of the 79 patients who received acupuncture plus a Infrared therapy (which is commonly used during acupuncture treatments at Orlando Acupuncture). 42 patients were deemed “cured”. Another 30 cases treated with the acupuncture were deemed, “effective”. The other group was treated with L-Dopa. Both groups received treatment for 30 days. At the end of the study, the group on medication had a 30% effectiveness rate, while the acupuncture group had a 91% effectiveness.
Another study, done by YL Shi and YM Wang in 2003, had 120 RLS patients. This study also compared acupuncture therapy to western medications given over a 30 day period. The findings here were that the acupuncture group had a 48% “cure” rate (all symptoms were gone), and a 75% effectiveness rate, meaning some or all symptoms were gone or reduced.
Because of the holistic approach of Chinese medicine, often times a strategy of using multiple forms of treatment at the same time are employed. An example of this is the first study above when patients were treated with acupuncture plus an infrared heat lamp. This way the patient benefits from both procedures (acupuncture and heat therapy) at the same time. Attacking a condition from several angles helps patients get faster results.
Another commonly employed way to treat Restless Legs Syndrome is with the use of Chinese Herbal Medicine. With Chinese Herbal Medicine a mixture of 8 to 12 different Chinese herbs are mixed together and given to the patient most often in pill form or given as a tea to be warmed up and drank. Each of the Chinese herbs are purposely selected to work together as a group to improve the patient’s condition. The idea is to eliminate the underlying cause of disease as well as the symptoms.
How to Get Relief from Restless Legs Syndrome
If you like to see if Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help you, or if you have any questions, please give us a call at Orlando Acupuncture at 407.673.6700. We would love to schedule a Free Consultation appointment to sit down with you, answer any questions you might have, and see if we think that we can help to get rid of your symptoms and improve your health.
Why do people get Restless Legs Syndrome?
Many people like to know why they got a specific symptom or condition. The terminology used by Chinese Medicine to describe the physiology (functioning) of the human body in is slightly different than Western Medicine, but the conclusions are the same. In Chinese Medical terms RLS is an examples of Feng or “Wind” disease. It is caused by too much Re, “Heat” and/or not enough Xue, “Blood”. So what does that mean in English? It means that there is an imbalance in the neurotransmitters (chemicals that control muscle function). Either there are too many stimulating neurotransmitters such as Acetylcholine (too much “Heat”), and/or not enough inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA (“Blood deficiency”)
How Does Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help Restless Legs Syndrome?
If you have the excess (too much “Heat”) type of RLS, Acupuncture can help to balance or reduce the neurotransmitters that are causing the excess muscle movements and pain. This balancing effect also helps if you have the deficient type of RLS, although supplementation may be needed to get the levels of inhibitory neurotransmitters back to normal. Sometimes nutritional supplements such as Natural Calcium, Iron, or Magnesium may be very helpful for RLS patients who are low in these nutrients. Other times a Chinese Herbal formula may be needed to resupply the nutrients needed to make enough inhibitory neurotransmitters to get rid of the restless leg problem.
If you or someone you know is suffering from RLS don’t wait, call us today for a Free, No Obligation Consultation to see if Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help you