Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), frequently termed Willis-Ekbom disease, is a prevalent neurological condition causing significant discomfort in many individuals. If you’re struggling with the nagging question, “What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?”, you’re in the right place. Below, we illuminate the primary causes and factors contributing to RLS.

1. Genetic Roots of RLS

Family history and genetics play a pivotal role in RLS. Multiple family members might suffer from RLS if there’s a genetic predisposition. Certain genetic markers have been directly associated with an enhanced susceptibility to RLS.

2. Dopamine Imbalances: A Key Cause of RLS

Dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter governing muscle movements, is intricately linked to RLS. An imbalance in dopamine levels can lead to the onset of RLS symptoms. This is evident when RLS patients find relief through dopamine-augmenting medications.

3. The Connection between Iron Deficiency and RLS

Many RLS sufferers present with either a deficiency in iron or challenges with optimal iron storage. Since iron aids in dopamine synthesis, an iron shortfall can be a notable cause of Restless Leg Syndrome.

4. Pregnancy and Its Link to RLS

Many women experience heightened RLS symptoms during pregnancy, especially in the final trimester. Although the complete reasons are not fully mapped, factors like hormonal shifts, vitamin and mineral imbalances, and circulatory changes could be potential culprits. Postpartum, many women note a decline in RLS symptoms.

5. Certain Medications: An Underrated Cause of RLS

RLS symptoms can be exacerbated by specific medications, including certain antipsychotics, antidepressants, and cold/allergy drugs that contain antihistamines. If you suspect your medication regimen may be influencing RLS, a discussion with your physician is crucial.

6. Chronic Diseases: How They Influence RLS

Conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy can either spark RLS or intensify its symptoms. Addressing and managing these core health conditions can sometimes mitigate RLS symptoms.

7. Lifestyle Factors That Trigger RLS

Elements like caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use are known to aggravate RLS in certain individuals. Inadequate sleep or poor sleep patterns are also strong RLS triggers. Additionally, chronic stress might enhance RLS susceptibility in some.

8. Peripheral Neuropathy’s Role in RLS

Peripheral nerve damage, often stemming from diabetes or chronic alcoholism, can be a direct cause of RLS. This is due to impaired nerve signals traveling between the legs and the brain.

9. Venous Reflux and RLS

Emerging research suggests that venous reflux, a condition where blood flow in the leg veins is compromised, could be tied to RLS. Some RLS patients have recorded symptom alleviation following venous insufficiency treatments.


While the exact causes of RLS continue to be explored, the current understanding emphasizes a blend of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. If you’re grappling with RLS symptoms, a consultation with a healthcare specialist is paramount to pinpoint causes and design a tailored treatment plan. Recognizing and managing the root causes is the first step towards effective RLS relief.