How Does a Doctor Diagnose
Restless Leg Syndrome?

It can be difficult to diagnose restless leg syndrome. No laboratory test can make a diagnosis of RLS, and when you initially consult a physician, he or she will probably not be able to see anything obviously wrong with you.

Diagnosis, therefore, depends on your detailed description of your symptoms to your doctor (who may in turn recommend that you see a neurologist). Your partner may be able to help by describing how your leg movements awaken you.

A complete physical and neurological exam will help identify other conditions associated with RLS, such as nerve damage. Basic laboratory tests may be conducted in order to assess general health and to rule out anemia.

Finally, your physician may suggest that you undergo an overnight sleep study to determine whether PLMD or other sleep problems may be contributing to your sleep difficulties.

All in all, RLS can be a very frustrating sort of sleep problem to pin down. However, healthcare providers are becoming more adept at making early diagnoses and sleep researchers are developing and evaluating new treatments.

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Wolfson, Amy R., PH.D. The Woman's Book of Sleep. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2001.