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Diagnosing Restless Legs Syndrome

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.

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)

Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) steals sleep. It's usually worst in the evening and overnight, which can mean little rest, and fatigue the next day. "Most people with RLS have fragmented sleep, with difficulty falling asleep and repetitive jerking motions that can wake them up," says neurologist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorders Center. The good news, she says, is that many people with RLS respond to simple treatments -- and that can mean better sleep...

Read the Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep article > >

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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

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