Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Sleep

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disrupted sleep.

In addition to poor quality and short sleep at night, research has shown that people with RLS generally experience a reduced quality of life in the absence of treatment.

Restless Legs and Varicose Veins

Many studies indicate that RLS symptoms may be caused by underlying varicose veins in the legs.  Varicose veins are caused by unhealthy valves within the veins. When these valves fail or leak, the blood falls backward through the poorly functioning valves causing the blood pool and appear enlarged, twisted or bulging.  Scientists first theorized a connection with RLS due to the similar side effects of varicose vein sufferers including pain, fatigue, itching, burning, cramping, restlessness and throbbing.  In one particular study, clinicians treated 113 RLS patient’s vein disease using non-surgical treatments, and 98% of patients reported relief from the RLS symptoms.

Who Can Get Restless Legs Syndrome?

RLS affects both men and women and can start at any age. It may be confused with growing pains or restlessness when experienced by children. In addition, the severity of the disorder appears to increase with age. Older patients experience symptoms more frequently and for longer periods of time.

RLS runs in families and may have a genetic component. In a recent study, the first RLS gene was discovered and was shown to account for approximately 50% of RLS cases. However, the researchers who identified the RLS gene cautioned that having it does not guarantee RLS.

Rather, there are likely to be medical, environmental or other factors involved in translating RLS genetic susceptibility into RLS symptoms. Another RLS study also found that a genetic variant may account for about half of RLS cases and revealed an association between RLS and a gene for limb development, suggesting the possibility that RLS has components of a developmental disorder.

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