RLS: Why Is Misdiagnosis Is So Common?

A smiling doctor writing notes in a chartSometimes it’s difficult for doctors to diagnose restless leg syndrome.


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Many cases of restless leg syndrome go undiagnosed because:

  • Many people do not seek a doctor’s help when they have symptoms.
  • Most people visit a doctor during the day, when symptoms are not present or are only mild.
  • Some doctors do not recognize the condition and may believe that the symptoms are caused by other conditions, such as insomnia, stress, muscle cramps, or arthritis.
  • Restless legs syndrome does occur in children but it is hard to diagnose for the same reasons.

The Special Problem With Children & RLS

Children often are not able to describe their symptoms. A parent’s observations of the child’s behavior and sleep may be helpful. Knowing that a parent or other close relative has restless legs syndrome can also help the doctor make a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome in the child.