Pain in the legs in a 21 weeks pregnant woman

Patient

Q: I am currently 21 weeks pregnant and in the past 2 weeks have been suffering with really bad pains in my lower legs and if i am sitting for too long it travels up my leg and in to my arms. i had a look on NHS24 website and came across RLS - Restless Leg Sydrome and discovered its very common in pregnacys and as it is getting worse during my pregnancy and i am getting no sleep i need something done so i went to see my doctor and she told me it was nothing it was the way the baby was luying on nerves in my back, which i dont understand because i would of thought if this was the problem then it would be happening all the time and it only seems to be happening night times and when i have been sitting for to long e.g in the car. I hope you can help me

Doctor

A:    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that controls movements and affects the legs. Because it usually interferes with sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder. RLS affects about 8-10% of the US population. Men and women are affected equally. It may begin at any age, even in infants and young children. Most people who are affected severely are middle-aged or older. The severity of RLS symptoms ranges from mild to intolerable. Symptoms get gradually worse over time in about two thirds of people with the condition and may be severe enough to be disabling. The symptoms are generally worse in the evening and night and less severe in the morning. While the symptoms are usually quite mild in young adults, by age 50 the symptoms cause severe nightly sleep disruption that leads to decreased alertness in the daytime. But, you are also pregnant, third trimestrer,the baby is growing and occupying more space in your pelvis and possibly compressing certain structures (nerves and veins) that affect the status, meaning: circulation and movement of your legs. In many cases, personal habits can make a sleeping disorder worse. Sometimes they are the main cause of the problem. Here are some things you can do that may relieve your symptoms: Avoid or limit caffeine before bedtime, take medications (prescription and nonprescription) only as directed, get some exercise every day, avoid eating a heavy meal close to bedtime, maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid daytime naps, use your bed only for sleeping or sex, try not to use bedtime as worry time. You may benefit from physical therapy, such as stretching, hot or cold baths, hot or cold packs, limb massage, or vibratory stimulation of the feet and toes before bedtime. Exercise and relaxation techniques also may be helpful. Daily drug treatment is recommended only for people who have restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms at least three nights a week, or as determined by your doctor after deliver the baby and see if your symptoms persist. Drugs used to treat primary RLS do not cure the condition, but only relieve symptoms.

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