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Find out what being prone to restless legs means

Do varicose veins cause Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?

The short answer is varicose veins do not cause Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) but the two conditions may be present in someone at the same time. This may cause confusion about which condition is causing the restlessness.

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a brain condition caused by an imbalance of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Low levels of dopamine in the brain are also the cause of Parkinson’s Disease. Restless Legs Syndrome may affect up to 10% of people with varying degrees of severity. People with RLS have an overwhelming urge to move, mainly their legs. This usually occurs in the evening and over night but can occur during the day. The explanation for this is that dopamine release is part of the brain’s circadian rhythm – higher in the day and lower in the evening and over night. When there is an imbalance in dopamine, the lower levels in the evening and over night affect people to a much greater extent. Other parts of the body, including the arms, chest and genitals, may be affected. Typical symptoms include tingling, bubbling, fidgeting, itching, twitching, buzzing, pain, electric shocks, throbbing and cramping. When people get up and walk around, the symptoms quickly relieve. Getting off to sleep is often difficult. Once asleep, leg kicking, jerking and ankle twitching are common. Being constantly woken up by these movements often results in debilitating insomnia. Varicose veins often cause aching and throbbing and leg cramps over night. Some people with RLS mainly have throbbing and cramping symptoms and so misdiagnosis for varicose veins is common.

Spider,Veins,In,Pregnancy
Women are more Likely to get RLS, Especially During Pregnancy.

Why does the brain stop producing enough dopamine

In people who have Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), brain scans often show low levels of iron, especially in the area that produces dopamine. Iron plays an important part in the manufacture of dopamine. Despite having low levels of iron in the brain, a person’s iron levels in the blood may be completely normal.

In some people, there may be an overproduction of dopamine but there is a reduction in the targets on the cells that respond to it.

Who is at risk?

The most important risk factor for RLS is having affected family members. This risk is about 50%. Women are more likely to be affected, especially during pregnancy. Low levels of iron as a result of periods and pregnancy are significant factors here.

Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

In most people with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), no specific treatment is necessary.

Medications that increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and some that are able to mimic dopamine, are often very effective in the treatment of RLS. Hyperactivity may be one of the side-effects of medications that mimic dopamine. Sometimes, pain relief and epilepsy medications are useful.

RLS Can Cause Throbbing and Cramping that can be Misdiagnosed as Varicose Veins.

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