What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a neurological disorder that causes discomfort in the legs and an overpowering urge to move them. This is most apparent when people are in a relaxed state or while they are trying to sleep, hence the major concern people have with RLS is that it disturbs sleeping cycles causing fatigue. If not managed this sleep deprivation could lead to other serious problems as well.

RLS can affect people of any age, however, it is more likely to occur in people that are middle-aged and above. Women are also more likely to have the condition than men.

RLS may also be accompanied by a related condition known as periodic limb movement of sleep (PLMS) which affects about 80% of all people with RLS. It is a condition that causes one’s limbs to twitch or move periodically during sleep, occurring every 15-40 seconds, potentially lasting throughout the entire sleep period.

If you are suffering from uncontrollable leg movement you should consult a doctor immediately to rule out more serious concerns and get a proper diagnosis. We recommend these Best General Physician in Islamabad, if you reside in that city.


Apart from the main characteristic of the condition which is the overpowering need to move your legs, other symptoms may arise as a result of this or accompany it. These symptoms may include sensations of tingling, tugging or crawling, throbbing or aching on or in your legs, which may be stopped by movement.

Symptoms normally worsen during the evening time or nighttime. Hence, people with RLS generally get better rest during the daytime, while they are unable to get proper sleep during the night.


Oftentimes, the underlying cause of RLS cannot be diagnosed, and there are many factors that could potentially contribute to the onset of the condition. Currently, some researches believe that a major factor is the neurotransmitter dopamine, which regulates muscle movement. Regardless, there are some other conditions that the syndrome might be tied to. These include:

  • Genetics: Having a family member with RLS puts you at greater risk of having the condition yourself.
  • Chronic Diseases: Many recurring medical conditions can result in the development of RLS, including iron deficiency, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and renal disease.
  • Pregnancy: Though some women are known to have developed RLS during pregnancy, the main danger here is the worsening of symptoms due to hormonal changes.
  • Medications: Many medications could potentially worsen symptoms of RLS, like certain anti-depressants, antipsychotics, and antihistamines and drugs that contain that class of chemicals.
  • Lifestyle: Though evidence is sparse, the development of RLS could be linked to drug and alcohol use, including the use of tobacco and caffeine. In addition to this, generally having a poor sleep schedule or sleep apnea could put you at risk of developing symptoms of RLS.

Though anyone can have RLS, it has been shown that people of Northern European descent are more likely to develop RLS than any other ethnic population.


Having RLS could put you at greater risk of developing other more serious problems like heart disease, depression, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease.

If you know someone with RLS or have the condition yourself, we suggest you consult a professional immediately to determine how best to manage your symptoms, in order to prevent further complications down the line. We recommend these General Physician in Karachi, for those of you that require one in that city.

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