Can Varicose Veins Cause Restless Leg Syndrome?

Do uncomfortable sensations that may be described as cramping, tingling, or aching in your legs make it hard for you to sleep at night? If so, restless leg syndrome (RLS) could be to blame.

Symptoms of restless leg syndrome typically worsen in the evening or nighttime hours when you're sitting or lying down, which can disrupt sleep and lead to daytime drowsiness. Over time, this can understandably impact your quality of life.

The exact cause of restless leg syndrome is still being debated, but it’s suspected that genetics plays a role since about half of all RLS patients also have a family member with the condition. Sometimes RLS occurs due to an underlying medical condition, including venous disease.

It’s quite common for people with RLS to have varicose vein disease to some degree, even if varicose veins aren’t visible on the surface of the legs. Varicose veins oftentimes cause aching, swelling, cramping, heaviness, and even itchiness in the legs, which can in turn cause RLS. Once the varicose veins are diagnosed and treated, the uncomfortable symptoms of RLS improve in a significant percentage of patients.  

In fact, one patient had been experiencing restless leg symptoms every night for nearly seven years before having her legs evaluated for varicose veins. Ultrasound diagnostics showed that she indeed did have one failing varicose vein that wasn’t at all visible on the surface of her leg.

After receiving one treatment of foam sclerotherapy, she no longer had the restless leg symptoms. She said, “WOW! I thought why did I “put up with” the restless leg symptoms for almost seven years when ONE simple injection could have possibly alleviated my symptoms?!” (Read more about her story here.)

Unfortunately, venous disease as a source for RLS symptoms is often overlooked by physicians, particularly if there are no visible varicose veins, spider veins, or leg swelling. While there are medications to treat the symptoms of RLS, it’s important to have your legs evaluated by a vein specialist first to see if varicose veins may be the root cause.

Like varicose vein disease, RLS tends to get worse over time. However, you don’t need to suffer from uncomfortable symptoms and interrupted sleep due to restless leg syndrome any longer.

Dr. Douglass and the staff at East Tennessee Vein Clinic are solely dedicated to the treatment of varicose veins, and lead the region in experience and expertise of vein treatments. We treat veins differently than other clinics because of our comprehensive attention to treating the root cause and full extent of each patient’s vein disease. Vein treatment is all we do, every day, all day, since 2001.

Plus, East Tennessee Vein Clinic is offering free screenings for varicose veins through October.

Visit us online at East Tennessee Vein Clinic, or call 866-281-VEIN, or request an appointment online today. We are offering free vein screenings through the month of October.

“I just want to thank everyone on staff at East TN. Vein Clinic for making me feel so welcome when I came there. You all are so very nice and sweet to everyone.”

- S. H., Cumberland Gap, TN