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Restless Legs Syndrome Center

Diagnosing Restless Legs Syndrome

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Exams and Tests

In most people with restless legs syndrome (RLS), poor sleep and daytime sleepiness are the most bothersome symptoms. Many people do not link their sleep problem with the strange sensations in their legs. If you are having these sensations, be sure to mention it to your health care provider. This provides a very important clue to what is causing you to sleep poorly.

Sleep disturbances have many different causes. Your health care provider may ask you many detailed questions. These questions concern current medical problems, prior medical problems, family medical problems, medications, work history, travel history, personal habits, and your lifestyle. Your health care provider will look for signs of an underlying cause for your sleep problem.

There is no lab test or imaging study that can prove that you have RLS. However, certain tests can identify underlying medical causes such as anemia, other deficiencies, and metabolic disorders that could cause RLS.

  • You may have blood drawn to check your blood cell counts and hemoglobin, basic organ functions, chemistry, and thyroid hormone levels.
  • Needle electromyography and nerve conduction studies may be done if your health care provider sees signs of nerve problems like neuropathy.

Polysomnography (sleep testing) may be necessary to diagnose the sleep disturbances and determine if you have periodic limb movements. This is especially important in people who continue to have significant sleep disturbances despite relief of RLS symptoms with treatment.

Recommended Related to Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Sleep and Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that affects movement of the legs. Because it usually interferes with sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder.

Read the Sleep and Restless Legs Syndrome article > >

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 29, 2013

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