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How To Ease Restless Legs From Opiate Withdrawal

Restless Leg or Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) can be one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of opiate detox. It was easily one of the 5 most irritating symptoms whenever I was in withdrawal.

For those not familiar with the term, Restless Legs Syndrome is commonly associated with the following symptoms:

-The unquenchable desire to move your legs. It can happen in other regions of the body but 90% of the time it’s the legs.

-Twitching and jerking motions during rest or sleep

-The overwhelming urge to scratch an “itch” in the legs. I often described it as wanting to scratch my leg bones!

-Odd sensations that can only be reduced by walking or rubbing your legs

There are other ways that Restless Leg Syndrome can manifest itself but those are the most prevalent ones. RLS is often a symptom of opiate detox and -for many- it can be agonizing. It can keep you awake and also prevent you from being able to sit down and rest which are the two things you want most when going through opiate detox.

The exact cause of restless legs is unknown however, evidence suggests that it has to do with the neurotransmitter Dopamine that is released in the brain. With respect to opiate detox, this makes perfect sense due to the fact that dopamine production slows to a crawl when you stop taking opiates and begin to go through withdrawal. As a result of disruption in sleep patterns, RLS can further hamper dopamine production which only makes matters worse. This is partly why a restful night’s sleep is so important during withdrawal; but it’s hard when your legs seem to want to walk off without your body during the night!

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of what it is and how it is caused, I’d like to share with you some ways to help reduce the discomfort of restless legs during opiate withdrawal.

Easing the severity of restless legs during withdrawal is 2 parts prevention and one part “treatment.”

One of the best ways to help reduce RLS is any sort of exercise that works the muscles in the legs. This is particularly effective if you suffer from it during the night when you are trying to sleep. Giving your legs a good workout can help stretch and tire the muscles which can significantly reduce the twitching often felt at night. I’m not sure if it is the build up of extra lactic acid or some other physiological anomaly but I can only tell you from personal experience that exercise works. Even a light walk every evening (or whenever RLS bothers you) can help reduce these symptoms. Exercise is also a great thing to do when in withdrawal for a variety of other reasons.

The second preventative measure that has helped me in the past is to stay well hydrated. Always have a bottle of water with you and try to take consistent sips throughout the day. Don’t drink huge quantities all at once because your body will just expel it a lot faster.

A good analogy would be the difference between heavy rainstorms and longer lasting rain showers. Heavy rainstorms produce a lot of water but the ground quickly becomes saturated and flooding happens. When rain is lighter and lasts longer, the ground has a better ability to absorb the water and retain it. So drink water at a moderate pace throughout the day and it should help with your restless legs.

The third piece of advice for Restless Leg Syndrome is what I like to call the “Towel Trick”. I used this “treatment” consistently when I had RLS and it worked well for me. Granted, nothing will totally get rid of your symptoms but this can help you get to sleep and hopefully achieve better quality sleep.

I was actually introduced to the Towel Trick by my Mom at an early age due to cramps and pain caused by “growing pains”. These types of symptoms occur when young people have growth spurts which cause the joints and muscles to expand faster than normal. Later in life (much later of course) I remembered the towel trick and tried it on my RLS. Short of cutting my legs completely off (joke), I was willing to try anything to reduce my restless legs during withdrawal. So I tried the Towel Trick and lo and behold it helped a lot!

“The Towel Trick”:

NOTE: I use bedtime as an example but this can be done anytime

1. Before going to bed, take a hot bath and give your legs a good massage.

2. After you massage your legs for a bit, take a product like “Ben Gay” or something similar (obviously do not use Ben Gay if you are allergic) and rub it onto your legs. Pay particular attention to areas like your knees, thighs and calves (essentially the whole leg I suppose!). I would recommend using the “cream” form of Ben Gay to avoid any greasiness after application. Give the cream a few minutes to absorb.

3. Take two terry cloth bath towels (medium sized if you can get them) and wrap one towel firmly around each leg (like a bandage extending from the thighs to the ankles). Be careful not to wrap it so tightly as to cut off circulation. Keep the towels in place by tucking the corners of the towel in at each end; it’s important to keep them firmly in place when you sleep. Gently slip into bed while trying not to unravel the towels…one leg at a time works best. If you can get someone to help you lift each leg carefully into the bed that’s even better.

That’s the Towel Trick!

Why do I think the Towel Trick works? One reason is due to the soothing heat that you will get from the Ben Gay and the towels. The other (perhaps more important) reason is the fact that the towels are putting compression on your leg muscles. This compression can trick the body into thinking that your muscles are being flexed and in motion. These are my theories and perhaps it lacks clinical evidence but hey, it worked for me!

As I mentioned, this has helped me many times during withdrawal and I hope it is effective for you. If you follow the preventative measures that I’ve outlined and then use the Towel Trick I think you find that your Restless Leg Syndrome can be a bit easier to tolerate. It’s certainly a more palatable option than amputating your legs in frustration (again…joke) and it may even help reduce a lot of your other opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Please feel free to send us any comments on this or, if you have any of your own tricks that seem to work, please let me know!

Hope it helps!

-George

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Comments

  1. This is the best website by far. Thank you

    • This website is so incredible! I swear this man is thinking my thoughts and feeling what I feel. I’m on my 44th hour and it’s been hell but I can tell u I wouldn’t be able to do this without George!!!

      • kratom. kratom is available at most head shops and if not, internet. the liquid is best for me but everyone is different. relaxes, gets rid of the leg twitch, it is absolutely fantastic. makes the detox process, well, bearable. try it. you wont be disappointed. jeff

        • Hi Jeff. I’m not sure if you have read recent stories or seen the abstracts on kratom but the reason why it apparently “works” is due to the fact that there is a narcotic derivative of opiates in it. If you take it long enough, you will have withdrawal symptoms similar to opiates. A few years back when Kratom wasn’t as “mainstream” people thought it was a wonder cure (sound familiar? I’m talking to you Suboxone!) well now that the AMA and other researches have gotten wind of kratom a few studies have been done and it is indeed an opiate that will shortly become classified by the DEA. I say beware and also be careful where you get it because the quality of the kratom varies widely.

          Please understand that I’m not saying this because of who I am; I’m just telling you what I have seen and read from reputable doctors and researchers. Withdrawal Ease is not for everyone and if Kratom is your thing then feel free but I just wanted to clarify what it is before people start running out and buying it.

          Unfortunately with opiate withdrawal, nothing is a cure and nothing is a complete solution. Detox will always be challenging no matter what you take. There are steps to minimize discomfort and increase your chances for success but Kratom would not be at the top of my list.

  2. Thanks George,that makes so much sense.I am going to try it,as soon as I can get some Ben Gay.

  3. I never thought i would someone who could relate to these terriable sides

  4. I also tie a belt around the top of my leg and arm (My problem areas). It’s not a total cure and doesn’t help all that much with the insomnia but it sure helps the symptoms. Also Advil might help but I’m not to sure on that one.

  5. Do you think heated pads would work? One for each leg? Also, when I was in High School…God knows that’s been awhile. *cough* 29 now *cough* Lol yet I apparently look 19..so I “suppose” something stunted my aging =P But anyway, I remember my gym teacher, he used to tell us that if we didn’t have a heating pad that we were to take Saran Wrap and wrap it around basically wherever you have pain. It wouldn’t allow to body heat to escape raising it several degrees, thus you had your cheap home made heating pad. Maybe after the Bengay or IcyHot you can use plastic wrap for better results on restriction plus keeping in the heat than towels? I wish you guys all the luck!

    • Hi Steven. I know it may sound like a cop-out but anything that works and doesn’t risk injury or death to you or others (a bit of levity) is worth a try. I think the towels work very well but if Saran wrap, heating pads or whatever helps then have at it!

      • Hey George. My GI doctor wants me to go to the hospital on a pain treatment unit to get off fentanyl and morphine because, for obvious reasons, they are obscuring problems I’ve been having since 2002. Any suggestions on how to deal? I am, quite honestly, scared s**tless!

        • Hi Genesis. Since you mentioned your GI doc, I assume you have some sort of IBD like Crohns or Colitis? Hence the painkillers? Not sure why your GI doc would send you to a pain management clinic for those specific conditions but I could be making the wrong assumption.

          If you do end up going to a pain management clinic, you need to make sure that there is a clear plan for your pain and eventually getting you off of the pills. They will tell you that it is too early to tell but you must push them on this because many of clinics are revolving door pill mills.

    • Thank you so much about the saran tip!

  6. Stephanie says:

    George,

    I have been tapering off of Methadone for a month and am almost down to 1/2 pill. The RLS was the most HELLISH AWFUL part of the withdrawal!
    I just ordered your product and can’t wait to try it!
    Thank you for creating this!

  7. Great posts and questions,
    Answers feedback from questions?

    Respectfully,
    Thank you ….. it is rare to read such great posts towards this issue.
    Want to more about Results of Product

  8. Sounds like a great product…but Im very limited on funds…So $89.00 may as well be a million dollars. Is there any sort of financing? Maybe a trial package to be sure it will really work for me?

    • PayPal has a financing option but I have been hesitant to try it. The last thing that I want to encourage is for my customers to incur more debt which is why I’m hesitant to offer it. Can you all let me know if this is something that you might be interested in? If I get enough positive feedback, I’d be willing to try it.

      -George

  9. Rodger Mitchell says:

    Moderated reviews are basically worthless because you just post the good ones. Come on people, you need to be straight with us.

    • Touche my friend! We post all reasonable comments. You’d be surprised to hear that most comments are not about the product but rather about the process and the struggle. We do not guarantee the product because it is a process and the customer bears some responsibility in it’s success. Although we give you the tools, you must be the engine that drives this.

      Here’s my take. “Guaranteed” is a marketing term that works wonders for e-commerce sites but is an empty promise to sell more product. No, we don’t guarantee anything unless you do your part. Of course we guarantee shipping, we give refunds for product that is sent back to us unopened and I give out refunds on a case by case basis but it really doesn’t come up a lot. Honestly, the vast majority of refunds that we give are for Fedex mess ups on shipping. Nothing works 100% of the time which is why I think saying “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” rings a bit hollow.

      Your comment is well taken though and I needed to address it. I hope it’s satisfactory.

      -G

  10. So please tell me what is the best way to taper off morphine 100mg.. and if gabapentin 400mg helps out with the withdrawals??? Please help me my dr.s got me hooked from having two major surgeries and now they just cut me off cold turkey??? I don’t know what to do?

    • Hi Mary Jane. My apologies for not getting back to the comments sooner. I’ve been inundated with emails lately. For all of you who would like to ask personal or specific questions about your situation, please feel free to email me at info@withdrawal-ease.com or you can go through the “contact Us” page.

      As far as your specific situation, it was irresponsible for your doctor to cut you off like that and I’m amazed that doctors who prescribe painkillers do not have the good sense to taper people off painkillers. Especially morphine…I’m going to write a blog post about this and perhaps it will get distributed and help educate.

      I’m a BIG fan of Gabapentin for a variety of reasons (cue in: I’m not a doctor disclaimer!). As you may know, Gabapentin (aka Neurontin) was initially indicated for seizures. It has since been prescribed for several “off label” (secondary indications) symptoms. It’s an extremely effective neuropathic pain medicine that is non-narcotic. I took Neurontin for my neck pain that radiated down my arms and it basically “cured” it. I was amazed. Very good for nerve pain.

      It has also been given in certain situations for opiate withdrawal because it can help with serotonin and dopamine production which is the central issue behind withdrawal symptoms. Not only can it reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms but it can also help with tremors and RLS. So “yeah” I like it a lot.

      As far as your detox is concerned, I would go onto our site and download the Withdrawal Survival Guide. It’s free (although we ask for your email address which I suppose is a form of payment?). The Guide in itself can help tremendously and you don’t have to pay us a nickel. Naturally I advocate our products but the Guide is a great start.

      I’m so sorry that you have gone through this Mary Jane. I wish I could help you more but hopefully you can get the Guide and perhaps the Neurontin will help you as well.

  11. George
    im having trouble sleeping and RLS has really taken over and my knee pains are know greater than when I started to take percs to prevent this pain . so I studied more your web site and noticed that I have been tapering down incorrectly or better yet basically cold turkey because I have had your product for only two days including this one. Is your product supposed to help me sleep right away or it needs couple of days to really kick in? It truly helped my need for the dosage thru out the day but I noticed that Im very down on the dumps. how long am I going to feel this way? Today my will power over took me and I had to take percs is this normal? I was just feeling horrible .I want out. im going to try again tomorrow from scratch again but some time I feel like im not going to be able to accomplish this and that fear is killing me. the ten reasons list was like right on the money for me it was like 8 out of ten but this pain on my knees and the blues feeling is just horrible how long do you think it would last?

    • Hey Rick, I’ve had personal experience with percoceit . It sucks I know exactly what your going through. I took them for about 3 years and when I stopped it was about 4 to 5 days of feeling horrible. But after that fifth day there would be short periods of time where I would feel so much better. More and more those short periods of time would get longer and longer. For me it was like a light switch going on and off. But the times when I felt good It gave me a peek on how I would feel all the time in the days to come. It takes time to heal yourself, But it gets better you gotta believe that. I hope this helped you to keep trying. Good luck

  12. Darlene D says:

    What about those circulation knee socks that you wear in the hospital when you are having surgery. Would that work with the ben-gay in lieu of the towels??? Please advise

  13. I’ve been taking one measley 50 mg tramadol pill a day for 8 years..it was prescribed by my neuro surgeon after my C5 / C6 fusion. I have had RLS for years and tramadol basically got rid of it for the most part. That’s why I kept taking it and I thought it helped with my insomnia too. I also have been using Unisom (Doxylamine Succinate) for 27 years..only 2 per night. About a month ago I began to realize my RLS was back and so was my itching…I itched when taking Tramadol in the beginning, but kept taking it anyway..the Unisom is an antihistamine that I now realize was counter acting the itching..I just thought my body had adjusted. 2 weeks ago I had a serious case of hives and RLS..I believed my body was telling me to get off both medications. So I’ve been at this detox for 12 days now..I’ve probably totaled 12 hours of something kinda like sleep. Although I now have tapered to zero I am itching everywhere, especially my feet, ankles and even the palms of my hands..Benadryl gives me RLS terribly, went to health food store and bought melatonin and a product for restless Legs, it’s called Restful legs and seems to work pretty good…so did the melatonin the first night..I actually slept a full hour and a half. Now the itching is driving me nuts…my question is this normal? I haven’t seen many posters even mention it. By the way Tramadol withdrawal is hell on earth…I can’t imagine how it could be worse..I almost had a seizure..I was totally freaked out?and that’s just from doing 50 mg a day. Can you suggest something for the itching…I’m now coating my body with cortisone cream…but it doesn’t last long…thanks for any help at all!

    • Hi Barbara. Tramadol withdrawal is pretty bad and it’s ironic that some doctors prescribe it as a “non-narcotic” alternative. Ok, so you’re giving me a less potent painkiller that is non-narcotic AND causes withdrawals? Gee thanks for that doc!

      I have to be honest Barbara I have absolutely no clue what could be causing this issue but your initial thoughts make a lot of sense. When someone says “itching” the cause is usually some sort of histamines in the body right? So if Unisom was some sort of analog antihistamine then perhaps it was the cause. There also could be certain medical conditions that I’m not aware of that can cause itching. Have you ever tried Gabapentin for your RLS? It works wonders for some people and perhaps the 2 conditions are linked in some way.

  14. interested says:

    I just want to agree with the Gabapentin for RLS it works great, only thing for me ( this is just me im not saying its happens to others) I get jerks & twitches, mouth & if i focus on writing like sighning my name or typing my hand will do a quick jerk……I have had it happen to me while chopping carotts, lil scary, if im out of Gaba. i do the hot bath & hop back in bed quick bundled up this works 50% of the time, I tried Tiger Balm it helped but stained my PJ’ bottoms…I have to say Ben Gay & moving a heating pad around helps too, I haven’t tried the towel trick with the Ben Gay but thinking that or saran wrap next time will do the trick :) thanx 4 the web site its truley a blessing & im thinking about ordering in case i run out, I had a fusion done as well i thought i was having maybe 5 or so fusions & woke up in mass pain & the dr. kept telling me what a job it was & it was basically a 1 in a lifetime job he will ever do ??? my appoit i got to see the x-ray wish i could post the pic, im all but my neck 3 dics (he didnt wanna cut my tatoo :/ ) is fused!!!! I cant even reach to wipe properly dont mean to be graphic but if you are having or think about having any spine work done ask alot questions, of course i didnt know what to ask until im in the condition im in! The surg. had me on morphine for 2 weeks & into the 2nd month of torture had me on a 5mg perk every 6 hr to 8 hrs, I asked if my primary could take over my pain management & to mine & my primarys suprise he said yes! he his weening me off much better, still have lots of pain & Physical Therapy is helping except the next day. kinda wrote a book sorry about that! ;)

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