Diagnosing Restless Legs Syndrome

Even though Restless Legs Syndrome (Willis-Ekbom disease) is one of the most common neurological disorders in North America, there's no real test for diagnosis. However, there are four key points doctors use to diagnose RLS. They can be described using the word URGE.

Urge to move the legs: sometimes accompanied by uncomfortable sensations deep in the legs that may be described as tingling, creeping, crawling, itching, or burning.

Rest induced: the urge to move gets worse during inactivity—resting, sitting, or lying down.

Gets better with activity: movement such as walking or stretching brings relief, but unpleasant sensations reappear when you stop.

Evening and night: the urge to move increases in the evening or at night or occurs only in the evening or at night.

If you think you may have RLS and this sounds like what you're experiencing, use the URGE acronym when you talk to
your doctor.

videos

RLS expert Philip M. Becker, MD, talks about diagnosing RLS

Dr. Becker is Medical Director of Sleep Medicine Associates of Texas.

Dr. Becker is a paid consultant of UCB, Inc., manufacturer of NEUPRO® (rotigotine transdermal system).

Your partner may be the first to know

In some cases, spouses and partners have seen RLS symptoms in their loved ones years before the people with RLS notice. So if you think you have RLS, keep in mind that your nighttime symptoms might be negatively affecting your partner, too. Make sure to have an open and honest conversation with your partner. If you can, bring him or her with you when you talk to your doctor.

If you think you may have RLS, it's important to understand how much of an effect the condition has on your life. It may have a bigger impact than you realize.

Use this tool to get started