Causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Although the causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome are unknown in most cases, certain factors are related. Research suggests that RLS affects about 10 percent of adults in North America and Europe alone. Its incidence is slightly higher in women, with rates increasing with age.

Moving the legs (or other affected parts of the body) relieves the discomfort, people with RLS often keep their legs in motion to minimize or prevent the sensations. As a result they pace around the room, constantly move their legs while sitting, and toss and turn in bed. This, in turn, leads to sleep deprivation which poses risks for your physical, emotional, and mental health.

These sensations in the legs often occur during periods of relaxation and decreased activity, such as during long car trips, sitting in a movie theatre, long-distance flights, immobilization in a cast, or relaxation exercises. It may also cause involuntary jerking of the limbs during sleep or wakefulness. Sleep disturbance is common with RLS. It often causes difficulty staying or falling asleep, which leads to daytime sleepiness or fatigue. Causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome are related to the following factors :

  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy or hormonal changes
  • Nerve damage
  • Low levels of iron or anemia
  • Chronic diseases, such as kidney problems, diabetes, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease and peripheral neuropathy, are often times indirect causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Medications (antinausea, antiseizure, antipsychotic and some cold and allergy drugs)
  • Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco intake
  • Environments or situations creating stress and anxiety are also potential causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome

The symptoms of RLS vary in severity and duration from person to person. To alleviate its symptoms, physicians suggest:

  • Leg massages
  • Hot baths
  • Using heating pad or ice pack
  • Iron, foliate and magnesium supplements
  • Decreased use of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
  • Exercise
  • Regular sleep pattern

Do not hesitate to consult with your health care provider if you feel or suspect that you suffer from causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome. Prevention goes a long way.

Sleep better to fight the causes of the Restless Leg Syndrome.


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