Restless Legs Syndrome

  • By Judith Sullivan
  • 12 Apr, 2017
Author/blogger Reggie Simpson

‘… a common condition you’ve never heard of …’.

Last week, Channel 5 aired a documentary on Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) that has proved both compelling and sad, not least for its featured sufferers, but also other RLS sufferers and those who suffer along with it.  It is estimated that one in 10 people in the UK have RLS.

RLS can occur occasionally for some and daily for others.

Sufferers in the documentary describe:

  • Deep, throbbing pain
  • Unstoppable urge to move their legs
  • Tingling pain
  • Unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs and sometimes the arms
  • Isolation
  • Poor step pattern
  • Disruption to daily activities
  • Compromised relationships

One of the interviewee said You can it, bottle it, use it. It would be a brilliant torture method’ .   Some sufferers even say that the condition makes them want to chop their legs off.

So, what is this condition  (also known as Willis-Ekborn Disease) we know little to nothing about?

What causes RLS?

In the majority of cases, there is no obvious cause, although RLS can run in families, and women are twice as likely to develop RLS.  Symptoms generally develop in middle age; however young people are also affected, particularly pregnant women.

Some neurologists believe the symptoms of RLS may have something to do with how the body handles a chemical called dopamine.  Dopamine is a hormone that governs much of our brain activity. Low dopamine levels can lead to lack of motivation, fatigue, addictive behaviour, mood swings and memory loss. Indeed, Parkinson’s disease is linked to low levels of dopamine.   Iron deficiency anaemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Morton’s Neuroma, under-active thyroid or kidney disease) may also have an impact.

Treating RLS

Mild cases of RLS not linked to an underlying health condition might not need treatment other than some simple lifestyle changes: 

  • Adopting good sleep habits
  • Losing weight
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing drinking and/or caffeine intake
  • Exercise regularly
  • Some medications (anti-depressants, lithium, some high blood pressure tablets, antihistamines) 

Sadly, for regular sufferers of the condition, it is more about how to live with RLS, not cure it.


To view the Channel 5 documentary visit:

Other sources of information may be found at:

If you think you have or have been diagnosed with RLS, please speak to us at Betafeet Podiatry to discuss how we might be able to help alleviate your pain. Equally, our associated healthcare professionals at Beta Health Clinic based in Hemel may be able to offer complementary options:



























By Judith Sullivan 09 Dec, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
By Judith Sullivan 28 Sep, 2017

We are delighted to announce that prose written by our Practice Business Manager, Reggie Simpson, will be featured in the Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Rhyme & Reason 2018 diary, now in its 26th year. The theme for this forthcoming year’s diary is ‘Freedom’. All proceeds from sales of the diary go to support this worthwhile charity.

Reggie says: ‘Although my entry wasn't among the top poetry and prize winners, I was chuffed to be selected for the 2018 diary. The theme was quite broad, but my degrees in politics and love of writing invariably drew me to entering the competition. In the end I settled on a focus of freedom in healthcare, no doubt inspired by my current employment at Betafeet Podiatry and the noble work of Rennie Grove Hospice Care ( ).

Rennie Grove Hospice Care, formally known as Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, merged with Grove House, St Albans in 2010 to integrate services in south western Hertfordshire. The ethos and values of the two charities were closely aligned with the principle of allowing patients to lead a good quality of life at home for as long as possible, helping patients and their families avoid the distress of unnecessary hospital visits whenever possible.

The diaries can be ordered from the Rennie Grove website, payment by debit/credit card. It's part of their annual Christmas/holiday promotion. There will also be copies in local Rennie Grove shops. They are £5 each with additional postage if bought online. Shop locations can be found here: .

Here is Reggie’s entry (to appear in the month of September 2018): 

‘Do not count the days; make the days count.’

Muhammad Ali. Professional Boxer.  Audacious. Charismatic. A winner in the ring.

But even when you have won it all, life throws you a few more punches.

Yes, his name opened doors and wealth, but the bombastic man of his younger years was humbled in later life, and following retirement, he dedicated himself increasingly to charitable work. Parkinson’s was already taking hold.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the highest honour the USA can bestow.   He died in June 2016, aged 74.

Now the news is about boxing helping dementia sufferers.

So what does this mean for freedom? Does getting battered around the head spell freedom and choice? One would say yes; a boxer is free to take such risks. When the consequences deal you a fatal blow as a result, when do you lose your freedom? Is it when you have been reduced to a shadow of your former self, a normal human being, and have to rely on others? Muhammad Ali likely had plenty of resources to ensure his final days would help him on his final journey.

We tend to think of freedom in political terms. It is hard to remove freedom in healthcare from politics. Think NHS reform, among others. Freedom in a healthcare environment means more to the individuals and families when they have life-limiting illnesses and need the care of volunteer-run hospices such as Iain Rennie Grove.

The NHS gives patients the rights to make choices about different aspects of the care they receive, from the different treatment options available. How these are chosen is individual, although for those with life threatening or limiting illnesses this choice will fall on family members. 

I quote the following:

‘In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties’.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Philosopher

September is World Alzheimer’s Month.




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