Most patients develop restless legs syndrome when they are 45+ and women are more than twice as likely to struggle with this disorder. There is a genetic component to restless legs syndrome, too. Over 50 percent of patients report that someone else in their family also has it. If you have someone diagnosed with restless legs syndrome in your family, your odds of developing it are 3 – 6 times higher.
The exact cause of restless legs syndrome varies. It may be caused by low iron levels, which leads to a miscommunication between neurons. Diabetes, which causes damage to the blood vessels and nerves that control lower limb muscles, is another possible cause of restless legs syndrome. Pregnancy can cause it as well, and in these situations, it is often temporary. Certain medications are also linked to restless legs syndrome, such as allergy drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, and some over the counter sleep aids.
How restless legs syndrome “feels” is often described differently on a patient to patient basis. If you have an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that is tough to describe, but feels different than numbness or common cramping, you might have restless legs syndrome. It might feel itchy, throbbing, burning, or like a crawling or creeping sensation. Most patients need to move their legs to get rid of the sensation, or you might feel a tightening and flexing of the muscles while the legs are not moving. In severe situations, there can also be periodic limb movements.