Understanding the Connection Between Restless Leg Syndrome and Varicose Veins

Are you wondering about the connection between Restless Leg Syndrome and Varicose Veins? Explore this informative article to understand the link and find effective treatment options for both conditions.
Dr. Samir Damani
October 19, 2023

Key takeaways

  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and varicose veins are two distinct conditions but can be interconnected in some cases.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, while varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that appear swollen on the skin's surface.
  • Seeking medical advice is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and varicose veins are common medical conditions that can cause discomfort and disrupt daily life. While they may seem unrelated at first glance, evidence suggests a potential connection between them. 

Understanding this relationship can help you better manage symptoms and seek appropriate treatment. 

Below, we will explore the symptoms of restless legs syndrome and varicose veins, discuss the potential connection between the two conditions, highlight shared risk factors, and address particular varicose vein treatments scientifically proven to improve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

Can varicose veins cause restless leg syndrome?

Varicose veins in legs

Varicose veins are a type of chronic venous insufficiency disorder. According to one study, 98% of participants with restless legs syndrome also had chronic venous disorders (CVD). 

While further research is ongoing and necessary, several theories explain this relationship.

For one, varicose veins occur due to impaired leg circulation, which causes blood pooling and inflammation that can lead to overactive nerves, possibly contributing to developing or worsening restless leg syndrome symptoms. Additionally, the discomfort and pain associated with varicose veins can disrupt sleep, exacerbating restless leg symptoms.

What’s the connection between restless legs syndrome and varicose veins?

A pregnant woman with restless legs syndrome

A few key connections between restless legs syndrome and varicose veins are shared risk factors and symptoms.  Here are some common shared risk factors between varicose veins and restless legs syndrome:

  • Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, for example, causes many hormonal fluctuations to occur. These changes can weaken the vein walls and valves, leading to the formation of varicose veins, and they are also more likely to experience restless legs syndrome symptoms. However, it's worth noting that restless legs syndrome symptoms often resolve after giving birth.
  • Genetics: Certain studies indicate that restless legs and varicose veins have a hereditary genetic component.  If you have a family history of either condition, you may be at an increased risk of developing both.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts added pressure on the veins and can impair blood flow, leading to the development of varicose veins. Similarly, obesity has been associated with the onset and severity of restless legs symptoms. 
  • Underlying venous disease: Venous disease is a common condition that potentially leads to varicose veins or restless legs syndrome. Both conditions share many of the same symptoms, including pain, cramping, and discomfort in the legs.
  • Poor circulation: When blood flow is impaired, it can lead to fluid buildup in the legs, triggering restless legs syndrome symptoms. Poor circulation is a known cause of varicose veins. 

Will treating varicose veins cure restless leg syndrome (RLS)?

Treating varicose veins may alleviate some symptoms of restless leg syndrome, but it is unlikely to cure the condition completely. For instance, proactive steps to address varicose vein symptoms can improve blood flow, reducing discomfort, including RLS symptoms. 

However, RLS is a complex neurological disorder whose exact cause is not fully understood. It is important to consult a healthcare professional specializing in venous and sleep disorders to develop an appropriate treatment plan for managing RLS symptoms.

Effective varicose vein treatments to relieve symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

Sclerotherapy injections for varicose veins in legs

While there is no direct cure for RLS, certain varicose vein treatments can improve blood flow and reduce venous insufficiency, possibly relieving RLS symptoms. Four effective varicose vein treatments that can potentially help manage RLS symptoms include:

  • Sclerotherapy: A treatment commonly used for small varicose veins and spider veins, sclerotherapy has shown positive outcomes in reducing symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. In one study involving 113 patients receiving sclerotherapy, 98% claimed a decrease in their RLS symptoms.
  • Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA): According to a research study, it was found that 80% of participating patients with moderate to very severe RLS experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms after undergoing Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) treatment.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA):  A minimally invasive procedure commonly used to treat varicose veins, RFA was shown in one study to reduce RLS symptoms in individuals with severe RLS significantly. Remarkably, one of the patients even reported a complete disappearance of RLS symptoms after radiofrequency ablation.
  • Compression stockings: Frequently used for individuals with varicose veins to improve blood circulation in the legs, a 2012 study discovered that wearing compression stockings can effectively relieve the symptoms associated with restless leg syndrome in those affected by the condition.

While these treatments can potentially alleviate some RLS symptoms, it is important to note that each individual responds differently. RLS is a complex condition, and its management often involves a combination of approaches, including lifestyle changes, medication, and other therapies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is restless leg syndrome a permanent condition?

While there is no cure for restless leg syndrome (RLS), the condition can be managed effectively in most cases. In some people, however, RLS may worsen over time and become more challenging to treat. As a result, RLS could eventually become permanent in some people.

Is restless leg syndrome related to blood clots?

There is no known direct link between restless leg syndrome (RLS) and blood clots. However, RLS can be a symptom of another underlying condition associated with blood clots, such as venous insufficiency. In this condition, the veins' valves that generally help keep blood flowing in one direction become damaged or weakened, allowing blood to pool in the veins, leading to blood clot formation.

How to relieve symptoms of restless legs syndrome that impacts sleep?

There are some steps you can take to help relieve symptoms of RLS to help you get a better night's sleep, including:

  • Take a warm bath before bed to help ease muscle tension and boost relaxation.
  • Massage your legs before bed to help loosen any knots or tightness.
  • Stretch your legs before bed to help increase blood circulation in the legs.
  • Try using a heating pad on your legs to soothe any existing aches or pains.

Does nerve damage cause restless leg syndrome?

Nerve damage can be one potential cause of RLS, particularly in cases where nerve dysfunction or compression affects the legs. However, nerve damage is not the only cause, and other factors such as impaired circulation, iron deficiency, and certain medications may also contribute to developing or worsening RLS symptoms.

Is restless leg syndrome a vascular disease?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is not primarily considered a vascular disease. It is a neurological disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. While recent studies suggest a potential link between the two conditions, RLS is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Can varicose veins make your legs weak?

Varicose veins themselves do not directly make the legs weak. However, factors contributing to their development, such as poor circulation and muscle weakness, can indirectly affect leg strength. Severe varicose veins may cause heaviness and fatigue in the legs, making physical activities more challenging.

Can spider veins cause restless leg syndrome?

Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, are small dilated blood vessels that appear on the skin's surface. They are typically harmless and do not directly cause restless leg syndrome (RLS). While spider veins are not directly linked to RLS, they may contribute to discomfort and leg pain, exacerbating RLS symptoms.


Understanding the connection between varicose veins and restless leg syndrome is crucial for effective treatment. If you're experiencing symptoms of RLS or varicose veins, it's important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

At iThriveVeins, we offer comprehensive vein care solutions, including state-of-the-art treatments for varicose veins. Take the first step towards healthier legs by scheduling a free vein screening with our experienced specialists today.

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