Restless legs syndrome

What causes the unpleasant symptoms in the legs?

RLS can be divided into two main types based on the cause.

Cases where the cause is not clear
Cases caused by pregnancy or by diseases such as iron deficiency anemia, kidney dialysis (end-stage renal disease), diabetes, rheumatism, and Parkinson's disease

It is still not well understood why RLS occurs, but the following three reasons are suspected.

1. Nerve cell abnormalities

A leading theory is that RLS symptoms are caused by poor functioning of dopamine, a substance that enables communication between neurons in the brain and the rest of the nervous system.

Nerve cell function
Sources: Based on: Inoue, Yuichi: Why My Legs Get Itchy (Medical Tribune, 2011)

2. Iron deficiency

Iron is used to make dopamine in the body. When your body lacks iron, dopamine production decreases, and this is thought to hamper nerve function.

3. Genetic

Research has shown that RLS is more likely to occur among members of the same family or relatives. Since 2000, research into genetic causes has rapidly advanced, and some genes connected with the disease have been identified.