Do you need to get a sleep study if you have restless legs syndrome?

This question was asked in Verdugo City, California on 06/15/2012.
Do you need to get a sleep study if you have restless legs syndrome? How can you determine whether or not you have restless legs syndrome?

Doctors Answers (4)

Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., FRCSC
Answered on: 6/27/2012

The simple answer is Yes. To adequately determine if one has restless leg syndrome (RLS) and the severity of the RLS, a sleep study is indicated.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/18/2012

Most experts say that you do not need a sleep study to make a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of abnormal sensation in the legs which is more common after sunset and is associated with an urge to move the legs. Movement of the legs relieves the discomfort at least temporarily. 85% of patients with RLS also experience leg movements in their sleep. These movements are called Periodic Limb Movements (PLM) as they occur in a periodic fashion, every few seconds, throughout the night. These movements may or may not be associated with brain wave arousals and may vary from very subtle movements of the ankles to kicking. The more prominent movements often disturb a bed partner's sleep. Periodic Limb Movements are associated with elevation of blood pressure and often lead to hypertension and daytime sleepiness. They are, therefore, considered as potentially serious. To diagnose these movements while asleep do require a sleep study. Treatment of RLS and PLM are similar but the timing of medication may differ. Some patients with these disorders will have symptoms in the daytime if confined to a setting where the legs cannot be moved (theater, airplane, car rides, etc.).

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 6/15/2012

You don't need a sleep study to diagnose Restless legs Syndrome. Typically people with RLS have the features of urge to move their legs, typically in the evening, that improves with movement. Sleep doctors are more trained in diagnosing RLS and treating it depending on the cause. Somtimes it is iron deficieny, sometimes other things like diabetes, neuropathy, back problems caffiene, etc, and in some cases it is genetic in nature. There are very good treatment options available for treating RLS.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 6/15/2012

No overnight sleep study is necessary to diagnose Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) as this is a clinical diagnosis. About 70-90% of patients also have nocturnal movements of the legs known as Periodic Limb Movements that can fragment sleep as well. RLS is a clinical syndrome characterized by parasthesias (abnormal sensations) and dysesthesias (uncomfortable sensations) in the limbs that compel a person to move to relieve the sensations and that are exacerbated by rest. The syndrome tends to run in families and is also worse in pregnancy, renal failure and in iron deficiency as well as made wors by certain drugs-antidepressants, dopamine blockers and caffeine.