Friday, November 9, 2012

Treating Restless Leg Syndrome With Acupuncture

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is an uneasiness that persists in the legs at nighttime or during prolonged periods of rest. Patients suffering from RLS often experience involuntary movements of the legs along with irritable cramping. During these periods of uneasiness, individuals experience an irresistible urge to get up and walk around. Although walking may temporarily relieve symptoms, it fails to provide permanent relief.
The following symptoms in patients indicate Restless Leg Syndrome:
• Extreme discomfort in the legs
• Irresistible urge to move the affected limb(s)
• Cramping of legs; tingling feeling in the legs
• Symptoms that become aggravated at night when lying down
• Symptoms that present themselves during long periods of rest, i.e. long car ride, long-distance flights, sitting in movie theaters
Research shows that Restless Leg Syndrome is caused by the chemical imbalance of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a chemical that functions by transmitting signals between nerve cells in the brain. RLS is primarily a genetic disorder and it often affects adults over 50 years of age, particularly women. In fact, more than 40% expectant mothers complain of leg cramping during the night and while sitting for extended periods of time. Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome are more apparent during the third trimester of the pregnancy.
There are a variety of lifestyle treatments that may be adopted to relieve the pain caused by RLS. These often include: adhering to a bedtime routine, engaging in regular exercise, losing weight, lowering intake of caffeine and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga. However, many patients seek chiropractic treatment because it is more suited to alleviating symptoms of RLS. This is because the condition is believed to stem from structural problems. Dr. Howard Loomis points out in his article Restless Leg Syndrome in The Chiropractic Journal that patients suffering from RLS should seek chiropractic care to correct their structural problems as opposed to seeking pharmaceutical treatment. This is because Restless Leg Syndrome may stem from numerous underlying causes and chiropractic treatment can accurately identify and treat those causes to relieve the pain suffered by patients. Moreover many patients feel that medication that may seem effective at first begins to lose its potency and becomes ineffective in the long run.
Chiropractic treatment of RLS involves acupuncture along with stretches and moderate exercise to treat Restless Leg Syndrome.
The most effective acupuncture techniques in the treatment of RLS are detailed as follows:
1. Kidney essence deficiency
2. Spleen Qi deficiency which irritates the Liver
3. Qi flow disharmony in the Yin/Yang superficial meridian of the lower limbs (It is believed that Yang does not move and Yin persists in the lower body thereby causing Restless Leg Syndrome.)
Many insurance companies are now beginning to include acupuncture in their coverage plans. Policy makers believe that by providing insurance for acupuncture treatments, they are making it easier for patients to access a treatment option that they might not be able to afford otherwise.