Restless legs syndrome
In many cases, the exact cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown.
When no cause can be found, it'sknown as "idiopathic" or primary restless legs syndrome.
Research has identified specific genes related to restless legs syndrome, andit can run in families. In these cases, symptoms usually occur before the age of 40.
There's evidence to suggest restless legs syndrome is related to a problem with part of the brain called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia uses a chemical (neurotransmitter) called dopamine to help control muscle activity andmovement.
Dopamine acts as a messenger between the brain and nervous system to help the brain regulate and co-ordinate movement. Ifnerve cells become damaged, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced, which causes muscle spasms andinvoluntary movements.
Dopamine levels naturally fall towards the end of the day, which may explain why the symptoms of restless legs syndrome are often worse in the evening and during the night.
Restless legs syndrome can sometimes occuras a complication of another health condition, or it can be the result of another health-related factor. This is known as secondaryrestless legs syndrome.
You candevelop secondaryrestless legs syndrome if you:
There are a number of triggers that don't causerestless legs syndrome, but can make symptoms worse. These include medications such as:
Other possible triggers include:
Find out what restless legs syndrome (RLS) is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.
Read more about the typical symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS), which include an overwhelming urge to move your legs and an uncomfortable sensation in your legs.
Read about the possible causes of restless legs syndrome (RLS), including genes, problems with dopamine, and other underlying health conditions, such as iron deficiency anaemia.
There is no test available for diagnosing restless legs syndrome (RLS). A diagnosis is based on your symptoms and medical history.
Find out more about the treatments for restless legs syndrome (RLS), including making lifestyle changes, such as establishing a regular sleeping pattern, and medication.