Restless Legs: Symptoms & Solutions That Work Now
What are the causes of restless legs syndrome?
In most cases, the cause of restless legs is unknown. However, it may be genetic, restless legs are common in families where symptoms are experienced before the age of 40. Specific gene variants are associated with restless legs. Evidence shows that low iron in the brain can also be responsible for restless legs.
Significant evidence has been found to demonstrate that restless legs are associated with dysfunction in the basal ganglia circuits of the brain that use the neurotransmitter dopamine. This is necessary to be able to do smooth, targeted muscle activities and movements. Disruption of these routes often results in involuntary movements. People with Parkinson's disease, also a disorder due to disturbances in the basal ganglia dopamine pathways, also often have restless legs.
Restless legs also seems to be related to the following factors or conditions, even though researchers don't yet know if these factors actually cause restless legs:
Chronic diseases such as renal failure, diabetes and peripheral neuropathy. Treatment of the underlying condition often provides relief from the symptoms of restless legs.
Certain medications that can make symptoms worse. These medications include antinausea drugs (prochlorperazine or metoclopramide), antipsychotics (haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), antidepressants that increase serotonin, and some cold and allergy medications that contain sedating antihistamines.
Pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. In most cases, symptoms disappear within 4 weeks of giving birth.
Alcohol and sleep deprivation can also worsen or trigger symptoms in some individuals. Reducing or completely eliminating these factors can alleviate the symptoms, but it is unclear whether these can completely prevent the symptoms of restless legs.
How do I know if I have restless legs?
There is no specific test for restless legs.