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)
The specific causes of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are not known. Disease in the blood vessels of the legs or in the nerves in the legs that control leg movement and sensation was once thought to cause RLS, but both of these suggestions have been rejected.
RLS may be related to abnormalities in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help regulate muscle movements, or to abnormalities in the part of the central nervous system that controls automatic movements. Research is still being done in these...