While most patients experience restless leg syndrome that results from abnormal central nervous system functioning, secondary causes such as varicose veins can contribute to symptoms. In these instances, addressing underlying venous disease can help patients find relief from restless legs.
Characterized by throbbing or other unpleasant sensations of the legs that result in an overwhelming urge to move them, restless leg syndrome can greatly affect a patient’s quality of life and make sleeping or resting difficult. As more knowledge is gained about the link between restless leg syndrome and varicose veins, some patients are finding relief from their symptoms.
“While it would be inaccurate to say that all cases of restless leg syndrome result from venous disease or the presence of varicose veins, they are certainly secondary causes of the disease,” says Primepares G. Pal, M.D., FACP, RPVI, Medical Director of the Minnesota Vein Center. “I have seen a number of patients diagnosed with restless leg syndrome who have experienced relief after treatment for venous disease.”
Because of the correlation between restless leg syndrome and venous disease, Dr. Pal recommends referral for patients who have been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome and also present with other symptoms related to venous insufficiency, such as leg and ankle swelling or the presence of varicose veins.
“I do not believe referral should occur in all restless leg cases,” says Dr. Pal. “However, evaluation for venous insufficiency is beneficial if other clinical indications are present.”
A the Minnesota Vein Center, Dr. Pal provides patients with a minimally invasive treatment option through use of endovenous thermal ablation. This procedure allows patients to benefit form an outpatient option that is performed through the use of local anesthesia and requires little to no downtime.
During the procedure, a catheter is inserted into a vein that has been determined to have valvular reflux. Once the catheter is correctly positioned within the vein, thermal energy in the form of a laser or radio frequency is used to heat and seal the vein, allowing for the return of normal blood flow. Ideal candidates for endovenous thermal ablation have superficial venous disease that is primarily in the saphenous vein system.
“Previous techniques for venous disease treatment, such as vein stripping, were lengthy procedures performed under general anesthesia in the operating room and often required extended recovery periods,” says Dr. Pal. “Through the use of endovenous thermal ablation, the length of recovery has been shortened considerably, and patients are encouraged to return to daily activities soon after surgery.”
For patients with more extensive vein disease, several other treatment options, including ambulatory phlebectomy and ultrasound-guided chemical ablation, are available through the Minnesota Vein Center.