Restless legs syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder that causes an unpleasant, uncontrollable urge to move one's legs, is highly prevalent among patients with advanced kidney disease.1 Referred to as uremic RLS, the condition tends to produce significant discomforts during hemodialysis sessions, leading many patients to discontinue their therapy.
While not all patients find relief with massage, many do report improvements, possibly due to the effects of massage therapy on improving circulation and promoting relaxation. Because of its richness in anti-inflammatory compounds, oil extracted from olives is commonly used in massage to relief pain, spasms, and inflammation.
This study aimed to evaluate short-term effects of olive oil massage for restless legs syndrome in patients with kidney disease.
This double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in collaboration between researchers from Qom University of Medical Sciences and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran.
The study involved 60 adult patients with uremic RLS, who were randomly assigned to two groups: the intervention group who received a massage with 10 mL of olive oil per leg and the control group who received a massage with liquid paraffin.
Massages were administered twice a week, took place during hemodialysis sessions, lasted for five minutes, and covered the area from the feet's plantar surface to knee level. The trial took three weeks.
Each participants was asked to fill out the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (IRLSSG) Rating Scale to measure the severity of symptoms at the beginning and a week after the completion of the study.
Researchers observed a significant reduction in the severity of RLS in the olive oil group over the span of three weeks in comparison the control group.
These improvements were recorded in total severity scores as well as different categories of the IRLSSG Rating Scale.
What Does this Mean?
This was the first study investigating the efficacy of olive oil massage on restless legs syndrome. Its significant reduction in the severity of symptoms of this bothersome condition gives hope for an effective complementary therapy, which may not only relieve RLS, but also allow people to continue their hemodialysis sessions with less discomforts.
More studies are called for to determine whether olive oil massage for restless legs syndrome is a sustainable therapy for symptom relief in people with kidney disease.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine, hort-term effects of massage with olive oil on the severity of uremic restless legs syndrome: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 2019
- International Society of Nephrology. (2013). Epidemiology, impact, and treatment options of restless legs syndrome in end-stage renal disease patients: an evidence-based review. Retrieved December 18, 2019 from https://www.kidney-international.org/article/S0085-2538(15)56352-7/pdf