This is an unusual post for this blog, but this blog is here for the purpose of helping people and since RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) is quite common and “they” really don’t know what causes it, maybe this can help someone, or many…
I’ve had RLS most of my life and it seems that it’s gotten worse with age. It can make getting to sleep quite difficult some nights and can be very disruptive to sleep, to put it mildly.
Here is my story…
In the course of being treated for another problem, my doctor sent me to a physical therapist more than three months ago. I have been seeing her frequently ever since. (Although I am over 60, it is the first time in my life to see a physical therapist.)
To treat my problem, my PT zeroed in on a long standing upper back scoliosis that I have had all of my adult life from music lessons in my childhood that exercised one side of my body and not the other. She started treating the tense muscles in my upper back, neck, and head that were stemming from this postural imbalance. Although I knew I had upper back tension, until she made me aware of it, I had no idea that my tension was mostly on just one side. My right trapezius muscle, in particular, was always tense and tight. She dry needled the muscle and gave me sets of exercises to retrain my muscles. She had me work from the larger to the smaller tense muscles.
Some will tell you that dry needling is an unproven therapy, but I have seen someone claim that it cured their sciatica. Although the needle used is identical to acupuncture, the treatment is very unlike acupuncture. I knew nothing about dry needling until I was referred to my PT.
The first time my PT dry needled my right trapezius trigger point, I noticed I slept better. After a few weeks she saw that it was tight again so she dry needled it again. Although the dry needling hurts in the instant that it is done, I began to love it because I made the association that I was sleeping better and feeling better. It doesn’t feel good to have tense and tight muscles and releasing that tightness relaxes and calms the body, makes it feel lighter, and freer. I loved the overall effect.
My RLS was 98% gone during this treatment time period, too, but I was not about the conclude that tightness in my upper back trapezius was causing my RLS. Instead, I decided that I would quietly continue to make the observation for a possible correlation. Finally, in the third month of treatment, I did tell my PT that I was quite sure my treatment was also curing my RLS. The first time I told her she was doubtful, since it was in the upper body. But now, 13 weeks later, she believes me and wants to do a study.
All I can say is that I am certain that my PT treatment for upper body tense muscles has cured my RLS. I’m a case of one. But I couldn’t be happier. After a lifetime of suffering from it, and its progression to becoming quite severe as I age, I never expected to be cured of it. I am very happy!
It does seem possible that if a large muscle such as the trapezius is firing away and contracting chronically, and it is connected to the central nervous system (CNS), that it might be possible that it could cause RLS. Everything’s connected.
The CNS is very sensitive and is very involved in the sleep process.
Going forward, I hope to be able to relax these tense right-sided muscles, especially my right trapezius, by continuing the exercises my PT has given me. She is having me stretch my back muscles on a 6″ foam roller which I have at home and use twice a day. On my own, I’ve added some yoga movements to her recommended exercises, too. In general, massage alone doesn’t cure muscle tension such as this.
See: 12 gentle yoga poses to relieve tight neck and shoulders. There is a poster at the end of the article that I have printed off and have on the wall in my exercise area.
An overlapping treatment alternative that I highly recommend are the 7 techniques and movements to stretch fascia which has been tight found in this excellent article. The article includes the foam roller use that I mentioned above “foam rolling for the upper back” as one of its 7 items.
If you know of anyone who might benefit from this, please pass it on. And if this story of mine helps you, please leave a comment here about your own experience.