Relief is on the way for people with restless leg syndrome

Relief is on the way for people with restless leg syndrome

With as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffering from restless leg syndrome (RLS), according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, those affected are often looking for new treatment options. And while there are pharmaceutical options, many of the drugs prescribed to manage the symptoms of RLS have negative side effects.

But there may be some relief in the future for patients with RLS that doesn’t involve prescriptions. One trial found an adjustable foot wrap was more effective than standard drug treatments.

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes throbbing or unpleasant sensations in the legs that may cause uncontrollable movement. Symptoms of RLS typically occur at night or while resting. This causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue due to lack of continuous sleep and rest.

The eight-week trial published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association involved 30 healthy adults with moderate to severe restless leg syndrome. Participants tested a RLS device that was designed to put adjustable target pressure on two muscles in the foot to relax symptoms of RLS through an adjustable foot wrap.

The research showed that the pressure produced by the wrap caused a dopamine release similar to massage therapy or acupressure. They found that the device was 1.4 times more effective than the standard pharmaceutical treatment for restless leg syndrome.

“By putting pressure on specific muscles in the feet, we are able to create a response in the brain that relaxes the muscles activated during RLS,” said Phyllis Kuhn, MS, PhD, the study’s lead researcher. “It’s a near perfect example of the body regulating itself without drugs, many of which have the potential for significant adverse side effects.”

Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, says the findings are promising.

“This is an important development since so many patients are interested in non-medication options due to concerns over the many possible side effects,” says Dr. Hampton. “The use of this device to stimulate dopamine release in a more natural way will likely make patients more comfortable using this as a medical intervention and will attract lots of attention from patients and clinicians alike.”

Dr. Hampton says you likely have RLS if you have:

  • Strong, often irresistible urge to move your legs, usually accompanied by uncomfortable sensations described as crawling, creeping, cramping, tingling or pulling
  • Symptoms that start or get worse when sitting or lying down
  • Symptoms that are partially or temporarily relieved by activity, such as walking or stretching
  • Symptoms that are typically worse at night

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  1. Is the described wrap available for purchase. Since it is non-invasive I don’t see any harm in patients using it. If not available is there a follow up research study that one could volunteer to be a participant?

  2. When will this wrap be available?

  3. Health enews editor January 30, 2017 at 1:06 pm · Reply

    HI WInifred and Diane, Thanks for reading. Relaxis was FDA-approved in the summer of 2014 and provide an alternative to medications. In terms of coverage, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet covered this device. Patients need to pay out of pocket if they want to try this new medical intervention. The company that supplies this device offers it on their website as a rental at
    On their website, they advertise it for as low as $50/month but don’t explain how pricing works. They can be reached at (888) 475-7435 to learn more. If you plan to try this device please remember to discuss with your clinician prior to trying any new medical intervention.

  4. when this devise be on the market for public to purchase

  5. I am ready able and willing to give it a try

  6. I have been using a Relaxis pad for several months now at the recommendation of my Neurologist, and it works quite well. I am allergic to all but one of the medications for restless leg, and I can only take that one medication in small doses due to side effects. But the pad is not the wrap described in this article. I had to pay for it out of pocket, and it’s not cheap, but it has been well worth the cost. I hope the wraps will be available soon!

  7. Stephen Sorenson MD January 30, 2017 at 4:46 pm · Reply

    Recent large studies have shown that up to a third of patients suffering from restless leg syndrome have associated venous hypertension secondary to varicose vein disease. It would be important to inform physicians and patients to screen for this possibility with a duplex ultrasound examination.
    In our practice, we have seen RLS symptoms resolve following treatment of the patient’s varicose veins.

  8. I have been suffering with this since I was a small child. When it starts I have to get up out of bed and walk to relieve it so I can get back to sleep.

  9. When will wrap be available where. Can I get it

  10. This is now in the UK – I’m so pleased – from a company called medi UK ltd

  11. I live in the U.K. and have been using the Restiffic foot wraps since they were available here in November. While they do relieve my symptoms they do not get rid of them completely. Some nights are definitely worse than others. They are not cheap but as I do not want to take any medication, they are the next best thing.

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About the Author

Tiffany Nguyen
Tiffany Nguyen

Tiffany Nguyen, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate Support Centers in Downers Grove, IL. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a degree in public health. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration focusing specifically on healthcare management at Lewis University. Tiffany enjoys hanging out with her friends, exploring new restaurants, and binge watching Netflix shows.