If you have signs and symptoms of restless legs syndrome, make an appointment with your doctor. After an initial evaluation, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the nervous system (neurologist) or a sleep specialist.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, including knowing what to expect from your doctor.
Information to gather in advance
- Write down your symptoms, including when they first started and when they tend to occur.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions you have and any prescription or over-the-counter medications you're taking, including vitamins and supplements. Also note whether you or anyone in your family has a history of restless legs syndrome.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
Below are some basic questions to ask your doctor about restless legs syndrome. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.
- What is the most likely cause of my signs and symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What tests are needed to make a diagnosis?
- What treatment options are available for this condition?
- If you're recommending medications, what are the possible side effects?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- What self-care steps are likely to improve my symptoms?
- Do you have any educational materials I can take with me or any websites you recommend?
- Where can I find a support group for people with restless legs syndrome?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- Would you use words like crawling, tingling, cramping, creeping, itching, pulling or tugging to describe your symptoms?
- Do your symptoms tend to occur when you sit or lie down?
- Are your symptoms worse at night?
- Do your symptoms cause an irresistible urge to move your legs?
- Does movement make you feel better?
- Does anything else improve your symptoms?
- Have you been told that you kick, shake or otherwise move your legs while sleeping?
- Do you often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
- Are you excessively tired during the day?
- How is your sleep loss affecting your performance at school or work? Your personal relationships?
- Is anyone else in your family bothered by restless legs?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- What medications are you taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs?
- How much caffeine do you have each day?
- What is your typical exercise program?
What you can do in the meantime
In the time leading up to your appointment, doing the following may ease your symptoms.
Jan. 19, 2012
- Cut back on or eliminate caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others).
- Massage your legs while soaking in a warm bath.
- Restless legs syndrome. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm. Accessed Sept. 27, 2011.
- Restless legs syndrome: Causes, diagnosis and treatment. Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. http://www.rls.org/Document.Doc?&id=428. Accessed Sept. 27, 2011.
- About RLS: Frequently asked questions. Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. http://www.rls.org/Page.aspx?pid=543#7. Accessed Sept. 27, 2011.
- Salas RE, et al. Update in restless legs syndrome. Current Opinion in Neurology. 2010;23:401.
- Chokroverty S. Long-term management issues in restless legs syndrome. Movement Disorders. 2011;26:1378.
- Trenkwalder C, et al. Restless legs syndrome: Pathophysiology, clinical presentation and management. Nature Reviews/Neurology. 2010;6:337.
- Patrick L. Restless legs syndrome: Pathophysiology and the role of iron and folate. Alternative Medicine Review. 2007;12:101.
- Pregnancy and RLS. Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. www.rls.org/Document.Doc?id=183. Accessed Oct. 4, 2011.