The exact cause of restless leg disorder is not known in most cases. There are, however, factors that may be associated with the condition, causing or worsening symptoms. They include anemia, pregnancy, medications, heredity, chemical imbalance, alcohol use, and sleep deprivation.
Persons with restless leg disorder have a compelling desire to move their legs in order to relieve unpleasant sensations of crawling, pulling, creeping, throbbing, itching, or aching within their legs. A “pins and needles” feeling is common.
Symptoms may appear any time after you have been sitting or lying down for a long period of time. However they usually get worse at night. About 80% of people with restless leg syndrome will kick their legs during the night. This can cause recurrent arousals from sleep and daytime sleepiness.
Because there is no medical test designed to diagnose restless leg disorder, Dr. Nassar bases his diagnosis on the symptoms, a family history of symptoms, medication use, and problems with daytime sleepiness. He may conduct physical and neurological exams as well as blood tests to determine the presence of other medical conditions. While a sleep study is not usually required, it may be a helpful tool to determine if you have another sleep disorder that is contributing to your symptoms.