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Secondary Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome


Updated February 24, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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In people with Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, RLS may develop. If diabetes is left uncontrolled, nerve damage can result. This is thought to occur because of high levels of glucose within the blood. This can lead to damage of small blood vessels that supply the nerves called vaso nervorum. When these become clogged, the nerve itself will become damaged. Often this leads to a peripheral neuropathy, which consists of pain and a pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. This may progress up the legs and even involve the hands. Associated with these sensory changes, some people will also have symptoms of RLS. Therefore, it is thought that diabetes may be an independent risk factor for developing RLS. In people who have undergone pancreas and kidney transplants, their symptoms of RLS have improved.

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