At this time, there are no specific tests for restless leg syndrome (RLS). Because insomnia, arthritis, cramps, stress, the effects of aging and other movement disorders produce similar symptoms, screening for restless leg syndrome is done by a neurologist familiar with the disorder. Doctors review symptoms, record family and medical history and make neurological and physical exams. They base a diagnosis of RLS on the International Restless Leg Syndrome Study criteria. These defining factors include:
- A strong urge to move regardless of experiencing uncomfortable sensations
- Discomfort is relieved by movement and recurs when movement ends
- Symptoms activated by rest and relaxation and during sleep
- Symptoms that become worse at night and subside in the morning
Screening for restless leg syndrome includes tests to eliminate other disorders. Iron deficiencies associated with RLS can be found in blood tests. Sleep studies may reveal other conditions that disrupt sleep. Diagnosing RLS in children may be difficult as the child often cannot properly describe symptoms, their frequency or duration and the disorder may be attributed to attention deficit disorder or growing pains.