Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

The cause of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is not known. For the most part, RLS isn’t related to a serious underlying medical problem. However, RLS sometimes accompanies other conditions, such as: Peripheral neuropathy, Iron deficiency, Kidney failure.

There seems to be no single cause associated with for all people with RLS, a number of facts are now known to cause RLS.

They include:

  • RLS may be linked with abnormalities in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help regulate muscle movements, or to abnormalities in the part of the central nervous system that controls automatic movements. Research is still being done in these areas.
  • Many different medical conditions can cause secondary RLS. The two most common conditions are iron-deficiency anemia and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Drugs like anticonvulsant drugs, antidepressant drugs, antipsychotic drugs, certain medications used to control seizures, beta-blockers, H2 blockers, lithium, and neuroleptics may cause RLS.
  • Withdrawal from vasodilator drugs, sedatives, or imipramine can cause RLS symptoms.
  • Hereditary factors can cause RLS.
  • Stress tends to worsen the symptoms of RLS.
  • Pregnancy or hormonal changes may temporarily worsen RLS signs and symptoms.
  • People with low iron levels or anemia may be prone to developing RLS. Once iron levels or anemia is corrected, patients may see a reduction in symptoms.
  • Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy are associated with RLS. Treating the underlying condition often provides relief from RLS symptoms.
  • Some pregnant women experience RLS, especially in their last trimester. For most of these women, symptoms usually disappear within 4 weeks after delivery.
  • Some cold and allergy medications-may aggravate RLS symptoms.
  • Researchers also have found that caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may aggravate or trigger symptoms in patients who are predisposed to develop RLS.
  • Hypoglycemia has also been found to worsen RLS symptoms.
  • Both primary and secondary RLS can be worsened by surgery of any kind, however back surgery or injury can be associated with causing RLS.
  • Other secondary causes include magnesium deficiency, vitamin B-12 deficiency, amyloidosis, Lyme disease, damage to the spinal nerves, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren syndrome, and uremia.