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Restless Legs Syndrome - Topic Overview

One of the hardest things about having restless legs syndrome is getting to the diagnosis. Often doctors don't ask about sleep or don't ask about the symptoms of restless legs. If you're not sleeping well, or if you think you may have restless legs syndrome, tell your doctor.

Your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms to make sure that the feelings you describe are typical of restless legs syndrome and are not caused by some other problem.

You may have blood tests to rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms. In some cases, the doctor may order tests of your nerves to be sure there is no nerve damage. Your doctor may also order a sleep study called a polysomnography. This test records how often your legs jerk or move while you sleep.

If your symptoms are mild, a few lifestyle changes may be enough to control your symptoms. Some changes that may help:

  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and comfortable, and use it only for sleeping, not for watching TV.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Massage the leg or the arm, or use heat or ice packs.

When symptoms are more severe, medicines may help control the urge to move and help you sleep. There are different types of medicine, and you may have to try a few to find the one that works best.

Learning about restless legs syndrome:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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