Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

In most cases, doctors do not know the cause of restless legs syndrome; however, they suspect that genes play a role. Nearly half of people with RLS also have a family member with the condition.

Other factors associated with the development or worsening of restless legs syndrome include:

Requires a medical diagnosis
The main symptom is a nearly irresistible urge to move the legs.
People may experience:
Pain areas: in the leg
Sleep: difficulty falling asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation, or sleep disturbances
Whole body: fatigue or restlessness
Also common: charley horse, uncomfortable tingling and burning, or urge to move

Other factors associated with the development or worsening of restless legs syndrome include:

Chronic diseases. Certain chronic diseases and medical conditions, including iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy often include symptoms of RLS. Treating these conditions often gives some relief from RLS symptoms.
Medications. Some types of medications, including antinausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants, and cold and allergy medications containing sedating antihistamines, may worsen symptoms.
Pregnancy. Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery.

Other factors, including alcohol use and sleep deprivation, may trigger symptoms or make them worse. Improving sleep or eliminating alcohol use in these cases may relieve symptoms.