Are you one of the estimated 5 million people with moderate to severe restless legs syndrome (RLS)? This neurological disorder causes tugging, pulling, tingling, and other uncomfortable sensations in the legs, especially when you go to sleep at night. For some people, RLS is bothersome and uncomfortable; for others, the condition causes severe chronic pain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, up to 10 percent of people in the United States have this disorder. Using a sequential compression pump or device for restless legs may help treat your uncomfortable symptoms.
Researchers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, had people with restless legs use a sequential compression pump for an hour before bed or when they usually developed restless legs symptoms. A sequential device is often prescribed for people with a circulation problem called lymphedema. A puffy sleeve is placed around your arm or leg and hooked to a machine. When turned on, the machine inflates the sleeve and squeezes your arm or leg, which helps blood and fluid flow more effectively throughout your body. Extra fluid that collects in your limbs is eliminated through urine. It’s a time-consuming but painless type of treatment that helps restless legs syndrome, too.
In the study, published in the journal Medicine, one patient out of 10 dropped out because of noncompliance. But three of the patients, who’d experienced RLS for an average of 5 years before the study, found their restless legs symptoms went away entirely after 1 to 3 months of using the sequential compression device. The other 6 patients said their symptoms significantly improved. They reported having a better quality of life, less daytime sleepiness, better sleep quality and emotional well-being, and an easier time competing daily tasks.
Restless legs can be caused by a variety of symptoms, including chronic diseases like nerve disorders, kidney failure, and diabetes. Some medications cause RLS, such as antipsychotic drugs, antinausea drugs, antidepressants, and allergy medications. Pregnancy is another common cause. Though some types of medicine can treat RLS, they do carry a risk of side effects. Sequential pumps, though expensive, may help relieve restless legs without significant side effects.
The cost of sequential compression devices often depends on how many chambers they have. More chambers are more expensive, but also generally more effective.