Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Algorithms for the diagnosis and treatment of restless legs syndrome in primary care

Diego Garcia-Borreguero1*, Paul Stillman2, Heike Benes3, Heiner Buschmann4, K Ray Chaudhuri5, Victor M Gonzalez Rodríguez6, Birgit Högl7, Ralf Kohnen89, Giorgio Carlo Monti10, Karin Stiasny-Kolster11, Claudia Trenkwalder12, Anne-Marie Williams13 and Marco Zucconi14

Author Affiliations

1 Sleep Research Institute, Madrid, Spain

2 Primary Care Practice, Crawley, Sussex, UK

3 Somni bene Institute for Medical Research and Sleep Medicine, Schwerin and Neurology Department, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany

4 Primary Care Practice, Dusseldorf, Germany

5 Kings College and University Hospital Lewisham, London, UK

6 Primary Care Practice, La Alberca, Salamanca, Spain

7 Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria

8 ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services Inc, Fort Washington, PA, USA

9 Psychology Department, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany

10 Italian Society of General Practitioners, Florence, Italy

11 Somnomar, Institute for Medical Research and Sleep Medicine, Marburg and Philipps-University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany

12 Paracelsus-Elena Hospital, Center of Parkinsonism and Movement Disorders, Kassel, Germany

13 Medical Education Global Solutions, Paris, France

14 Sleep Disorders Center, Department of Neurology, San Raffaele Institute, Milan, Italy

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BMC Neurology 2011, 11:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-28

Published: 27 February 2011



Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder with a lifetime prevalence of 3-10%. in European studies. However, the diagnosis of RLS in primary care remains low and mistreatment is common.


The current article reports on the considerations of RLS diagnosis and management that were made during a European Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (EURLSSG)-sponsored task force consisting of experts and primary care practioners. The task force sought to develop a better understanding of barriers to diagnosis in primary care practice and overcome these barriers with diagnostic and treatment algorithms.


The barriers to diagnosis identified by the task force include the presentation of symptoms, the language used to describe them, the actual term "restless legs syndrome" and difficulties in the differential diagnosis of RLS.


The EURLSSG task force reached a consensus and agreed on the diagnostic and treatment algorithms published here.