What are the DSM-5 and ICSD-2 diagnostic criteria for restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

Updated: Feb 22, 2017
  • Author: Ali M Bozorg, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the specific criteria for RLS are as follows [9] :

  • An urge to move the legs that is usually accompanied by or occurs in response to uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs, characterized by all of the following: (1) the urge to move the legs begins or worsens during periods of rest or inactivity; (2) the urge is partially or totally relieved by movement; and (3) the urge to move legs is worse in the evening or at night than during the day or occurs only in the evening or at night

  • Symptoms occur at least 3 times per week and have persisted for at least 3 months

  • Symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, educational, academic, behavioral or other areas of functioning

  • The symptoms cannot be attributed to another mental disorder or medical condition (e.g., leg edema, arthritis, leg cramps) or behavioral condition (e.g. positional discomfort, habitual foot tapping)

  • The disturbance cannot be explained by the effects of a drug of abuse or medication

The diagnostic criteria for RLS in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 2nd Edition (ICSD-2) are similar but do not include a criterion specifying the frequency or duration of symptoms.

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