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Restless Legs Syndrome: What Conditions Can Cause It?

Topic Overview

Restless legs syndrome can be a secondary problem caused by another condition. Researchers continue their efforts to understand and define the relationship between this syndrome and:

  • Iron deficiency or related anemia. The way the body metabolizes iron and certain proteins in the brain may be related to restless legs syndrome.
  • Pregnancy. Approximately 20 out of 100 pregnant women develop restless legs syndrome. Women who have it before they become pregnant may have more noticeable and frequent symptoms during pregnancy.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Neurological diseases, including peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson's disease, and possibly radiculopathy (a pinched nerve), which is a disorder of the spinal nerve roots.

When you are diagnosed with restless legs syndrome, you may also be tested for one of these conditions if your symptoms suggest a specific cause. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:

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Current as of: March 28, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology

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