Restless Legs, Sleepless Nights

By David Martin, RN,  President and CEO,VeinInnovations

Screen shot 2016-05-16 at 4.08.00 PM“Thank you for helping me sleep” is not the response most people think physicians hear after patients receive treatment for varicose and spider veins.  And yet, very often patients note that until they’ve had treatment, they did not know how much their vein issues were impacting their sleep quality.

Science indicates links between Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms and Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). About 10 percent of the population suffers from an urge to move the legs during sleep, along with uncontrollable jerking and/or pain. For some, this lasts all night, leaving them unable to rest.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to congestive heart failure, depression, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and infertility. During normal sleep, stress hormones are not released, allowing the heart rate to stay at a restful level. When sleep cycles are disrupted, stress hormones wreak havoc with insulin levels; the heart is stressed, and hormones that control hunger and appetite are adversely affected.

Many people who think they have RLS—even some who are diagnosed and given medication—may be suffering from CVI. In CVI, one-way valves in leg veins have failed, whether from heredity, pregnancy, injury, or lifestyle. Without the one-way valve to stop the downward flow, blood flows backward and pressure builds in the veins. Moving the legs helps pump blood upward, relieving the pressure and pain.

If you have any symptoms of RLS, an ultrasound of your legs —with you standing up—can determine if your symptoms are caused by CVI.  If so, our minimally invasive, in-office procedures take less than an hour, and require little or no downtime. These treatments are likely to be covered by your insurance, and are also likely to bring relief, again, if the problems are caused by CVI.

The tie between lack of sleep and a host of health problems is irrefutable. If your legs keep you from getting your rest, for health’s sake, have an ultrasound of your legs. The varicose veins that keep you from wanting to wear shorts may be the cause of your sleeplessness as well as heaviness, pain, and swelling. Treatment can help you sleep, feel, and look better, giving you great legs for life, and living!

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