Like restless leg syndrome, but in shoulders. Now what?
April 12, 2019 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Like it says in the title. The symptoms I experience mimic exactly those I have read about RLS, except this isn't in my legs.

I get achy, dull cramp plus an almost ticking sensation in my shoulders that wake me up or that starts up as I get quiet in bed and then keeps me from consistent sleep. I start to fall asleep and NOPE! Need to flex/pop shoulders NOW. And again 5 minutes later. And again maybe 2 hours after that. It can go on for quite a while.

I MUST stretch or flex them, there's no NOT doing it. Like RLS, or cracking your knuckles, but with my shoulders. Also, I've had a version of this since my teens, but it goes away for long stretches (weeks or months), and isn't ever so disruptive that I remember to mention it to my doc.

It's worse when I've been working out (think easy resistance training or machine rowing for mere minutes), but also just because. I sit at a desk all day, and my work outs are gentle, so I'm not muscle sore in "wow, I worked out hard!" way.

You are not my doctor, but maybe you get something like this. Next time I see my doc, I *will* ask. Meanwhile, is This a Thing of Which You Have Heard? If it's from general tension, would OTC magnesium (I take some, not a lot) or iron or potassium be the things people might suggest for this?
posted by Ink-stained wretch to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you taking any meds? Some can induce similar symptoms.
posted by praemunire at 5:52 PM on April 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, one possibility is Restless Legs Syndrome, because despite the (incredibly stupid frustrating misleading) name, RLS can manifest in other areas of the body.

The only thing you’ve described that would be a bit odd for RLS is your symptoms getting worse after mild exercise since that’s something that many people find eases their symptoms.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 7:27 PM on April 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have RLS and I get the very same achy shoulder thing in addition to the typical twitchy legs and arms and generally feeling lightly electrified. Stretches, hot showers, and avoidance of dairy/carbs/sugar after 4-5 pm seemed to lessen the shoulder effect somewhat, but eventually I had to begin prescription ropinirole.

Fwiw, my RLS is related to kidney disease, which makes everything into a bit of a funhouse mirror compared to healthy people. My magnesium is super high, but my iron saturation and ferritin are so low that we have started iron infusions. I'm hoping that helps a bit. I've read that RLS is related to dopamine stimulation and low iron/ferritin can adversely affect that. I've heard good things about upping potassium but my potassium is fine so ymmv. Does eating an orange or a banana seem to help?
posted by mochapickle at 7:40 PM on April 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

In the literature
I'm not an MD, but seems like similar course of treatment as to what would have been applied for a similar case in legs (although the comorbidities complicated it a bit).
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:41 PM on April 12, 2019

This has been a godsend for me. It's just straight magnesium citrate, but it does the trick within 20 minutes or so and I'm out cold for a few to several hours. No drug hangover or fogginess at all. I recommend reading the reviews first, there is a slight effect on my bms if I take it daily so I try to not take it every night, but on nights when my legs are just too achey to exist it does the trick ( I have RLS in conunction with pretty bad OA in the knees).
posted by newpotato at 4:18 AM on April 13, 2019

Nthing magnesium. It also sounds like you might have a pinched nerve in your neck? I had those same symptoms for years (it started in my teens) until I started going to a chiropractor who was able to correct it. This involved exercises, not just adjustments. Even today if I get too stressed (I hold tension in my neck and shoulders) or slack on my daily stretching it will come back until I get an adjustment or two. This happens maybe once a year tho.

I know chiro is not everyone's cup of tea but thought I'd throw that out there.
posted by ananci at 6:02 PM on April 13, 2019

I have RLS, and my ferritin was low. Taking an iron supplement has basically completely eliminated my symptoms. I should note that another med I am taking may also be alleviating some of the symptoms. However, when the dr. checked and my ferritin was back to normal, she said I could stop taking the iron supplement. I did, and the symptoms restarted, so I started taking iron again and no more restless legs. I am not a medical doctor/I am not your doctor/this is not medical advice.
posted by freezer cake at 12:58 PM on April 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

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