The Women's Journal

Is Restless Leg Syndrome Related To Venous Insufficiency?

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By Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC  


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move one’s legs. RLS causes an unpleasant feeling and improves when the legs are moved. The feeling can cause an “itchy,” “pins and needles,” or “creepy crawly” feeling in the legs. These uncomfortable feelings are usually worse at rest or at night when lying or sitting and can affect sleep. RLS may affect 10% of the U.S population. It affects both male and female, but it is more common in women and may begin at any age.

In 1944, Dr. Karl-Axel Ekbom proposed that Chronic Venous Disease (CVD) can be a cause of RLS, but RLS remained unexplored until recently when a study in 2008 found RLS symptoms were alleviated with the same treatment procedures as Chronic Venous Disease. The patients had both RLS and superficial venous insufficiency and experienced an average of 80% improvement in symptoms after the treatment.(Hayes, et al, 2008.)

Before treating RLS with medication, it is advised that venous disease be ruled out with a non-invasive ultrasound scan of the legs to determine if venous insufficiency exists. CVD is the condition in which the veins are not capable of pumping enough blood back to the heart and the blood pools in the legs. This can cause varicose veins. You do not need to see varicose veins to have venous insufficiency as that is just one symptom. You can have RLS and CVD and not have varicose veins. An ultrasound will measure the amount of blood that flows through your veins.

One patient recounts their experience with RLS and CVD. This patient is a middle-aged woman who had Restless Leg Syndrome since she was in her early twenties. The woman would sometimes get restless legs at night when watching TV and would have to get up and walk around until the feeling would pass. This was ok at home, but when it occurred in a movie theater or in a friend’s home, it was difficult to get up and walk around.


A friend recommended she go for an ultrasound to check for venous disease. Convinced she did not have CVD because she did not have varicose veins, she scheduled the ultrasound. She was surprised that the test showed she had reflux in both legs, meaning that she had CVD in both her legs. She had radiofrequency ablations on both legs. Unexpectedly, her legs felt better and less tired. She realized a few months after the procedure that the restless legs symptoms had not returned. The procedure has been approximately 4 years ago and she has not experienced any more symptoms.

While there are other causes of RLS, an ultrasound is a quick, easy way to determine if venous disease is related to it. If you think you may have Restless Leg Syndrome, call to schedule a venous ultrasound. Then it can be determined if you have venous disease and if any CVD treatments could help. To schedule a free vein screening or ultrasound, call 302-731-0001.



“This Doctor has to have been put on this earth to help those of us who either had or have horrible veins, legs, etc. Not only that, this is the type of doctor, if you are a person like I was who had all but given up on ever finding someone who could finally fix my veins, stop the pain, heal my sores, Doctor Alfieri at every visit never went without saying, ‘Your legs will be dance ready!’ Always positive! After one visit, my leg started the healing process – it was wonderful . . . Which leads me to his bedside manner . . . he just gets in there and will tell you, ‘You are here now, we are here to fix you, here to help you.’ His staff is top notch as well. A++ THANK GOD I FOUND HIM.” – Benalee M.

If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms of varicose veins, call today at 

302-731-0001 to schedule a FREE vein screening. We can walk you through the process and 

get you on your way to healthier legs!

Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC is a board certified interventional cardiologist who has been practicing in the New Castle County area for over twenty-five years. In that time he has seen and treated many forms of cardiovascular disease, one of which being the progressive and often painful and debilitating venous insufficiency, commonly described as varicose veins. Over the years, Dr. Alfieri came to realize that this problem was frequently underappreciated, misdiagnosed, and undertreated. It was this extensive experience and intense compassion for his patients that drove his desire to provide an effective and permanent treatment and led him to found Delaware Advanced Vein Center. With over twenty-five years of experience as an interventionalist, Dr. Alfieri is uniquely qualified to perform a multitude of vascular procedures with minimal discomfort and maximum, lasting results.


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