Conditions That Can Cause Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome can be a secondary problem caused by another condition.

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Researchers continue their efforts to understand and define the relationship between this syndrome and:

  • Iron deficiency or related anemia. The way the body metabolizes iron and certain proteins in the brain may be related to restless legs syndrome.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Neurological diseases. This includes peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, and possibly radiculopathy (a pinched nerve), which is a disorder of the spinal nerve roots.

Pregnancy & RLS

While not technically a condition, approximately 20 out of 100 pregnant women develop restless legs syndrome. Women who have it before they become pregnant may have more noticeable and frequent symptoms during pregnancy.

When you are diagnosed with restless legs syndrome, you may also be tested for one of these conditions if your symptoms suggest a specific cause. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood tests, such as a complete blood count, iron (ferritin) levels, or chemistry screen. The results from these tests may help you and your doctor find out whether symptoms are related to anemia, low blood iron levels, kidney problems, or diabetes.
  • Electromyogram and a nerve conduction study, if symptoms suggest that nerves are damaged.