What is restless leg syndrome and what causes it?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) also known as Willis-Ekbom disease (WED) or Wittmaack-Ekbom syndrome, is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one’s body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It most commonly affects the legs, but can affect the arms, torso, head, and even phantom limbs. Moving the affected body part modulates the sensations, providing temporary relief. WED/RLS sensations range from pain or an aching in the muscles, to an itch you can’t scratch, an unpleasant tickle that won’t stop, or even a crawling feeling.

While the exact cause of RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) is still elusive to researchers, many consider these reasons contribute to the cause:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Failure
  • Hereditary Gene
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis


Diabetes and RLS

Changes in the blood sugar levels and can damage small capillaries and nerve endings in all parts of your body with the fingers and toes being the first to be affected.

The nerve signals to the brain are interrupted and can contribute to the twitching and/or involuntary jerking of the legs of Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms.

Kidney Failure and RLS

The Kidneys help to clean and balance the chemical makeup of the blood. The kidneys help remove toxins and wastes from the body by constantly filtering the blood.

If the kidneys have been damaged or diseased some of the Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms of itching, numbness, tingling and muscle cramps.

Family Heritage and RLS

Restless Leg Syndrome has a tendency to run in families. Inherited RLS shows up in 60% of cases. Most often an individual will not start to show symptoms until their 30’s or 40’s but the condition can show up in children too.

The severity of the condition will vary but most individuals will experience the symptoms on and off for the rest of their life.


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