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Treatments and drugs

If you have RLS without any associated condition, treatment focuses on lifestyle

changes, and, if those aren't effective, medications

 

Lifestyle changes


Making simple lifestyle changes can play an important role in alleviating symptoms

of RLS. These steps may help reduce the extra activity in your legs

* Take pain relievers. For very mild symptoms, taking an over-the-counter pain

reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) when symptoms begin may relieve

the twitching and the sensations

 

* Try baths and massages. Soaking in a warm bath and massaging your legs can

relax your muscles 

* Apply warm or cool packs. You may find that the use of heat or cold, or

alternating use of the two, lessens the sensations in your limbs

 

* Try relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga. Stress can aggravate

RLS. Learn to relax, especially before going to bed at night

 

* Establish good sleep hygiene. Fatigue tends to worsen symptoms of RLS, so

it's important that you practice good sleep hygiene. Ideally, sleep hygiene involves

having a cool, quiet and comfortable sleeping environment, going to bed at the same

time, rising at the same time, and getting enough sleep to feel well rested. Some

people with RLS find that going to bed later and rising later in the day helps in getting enough sleep

 

* Exercise. Getting moderate, regular exercise may relieve symptoms of RLS, but

overdoing it at the gym or working out too late in the day may intensify symptoms

 

* Avoid caffeine. Sometimes cutting back on caffeine may help restless legs. It's

worth trying to avoid caffeine-containing products, including chocolate and caffeinated

beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, for a few weeks to see if this helps

 

* Cut back on alcohol and tobacco. These substances also may aggravate or trigger

symptoms of RLS. Test to see whether avoiding them helps 

* Stay mentally alert in the evening. Boredom and drowsiness before bedtime may worsen RLS 

Medication therapy


Several prescription medications, most of which were developed to treat other

diseases, are available to reduce the restlessness in your legs. These include

 

* Medications for Parkinson's disease. These medications reduce the amount of

motion in your legs by affecting the level of the chemical messenger dopamine in

your brain. They include pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip) and a combination

of carbidopa and levodopa (Sinemet). However, people with RLS are at no greater risk

of developing Parkinson's disease than are those without RLS. Side effects are usually

mild and include nausea, lightheadedness and fatigue

 

* Opioids. Narcotic medications can relieve mild to severe symptoms, but they may be

addicting if used in too high doses. Some examples include codeine, the combination

medicine oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet), and the combination

medicine hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Lortab,Vicodin)

 

* Muscle relaxants and sleep medications. This class of medications, known as

benzodiazepines, helps you sleep better at night. But these medications don't

eliminate the leg sensations, and they may cause daytime drowsiness. Commonly

used sedatives for RLS include clonazepam (Klonopin), eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon

(Rozerem), temazepam (Restoril), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien)

 

* Medications for epilepsy. Certain epilepsy medications, such as gabapentin (Neurontin), may

work for some people with RLS

 

It may take several trials for you and your doctor to find the right medication and

dosage for you. A combination of medications may work best

 

One thing to remember with drugs to treat RLS is that sometimes a medication

that has worked for you for a while becomes ineffective. Or you notice your symptoms

returning earlier in the day. For example, if you have been taking your medication

at 8 p.m., your symptoms of RLS may start at 6 p.m. This is called augmentation. Your

doctor may substitute another medication to combat the problem

 

Most of the drugs prescribed to treat RLS aren't recommended for pregnant

women. Instead, your doctor may recommend self-care techniques to relieve

symptoms. However, if the sensations are particularly bothersome during your

last trimester, your doctor may approve the use of pain relievers

 

Some medications may worsen symptoms of RLS. These include most antidepressants

and some anti-nausea drugs. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid these

medications if possible. However, should you need to take these medications, restless

legs can still be controlled by adding drugs that manage the condition

 

By: Mayo Clinic staff

 

Some related links

Restless legs syndrome

The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation

Signs and symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome - Topic Overview

 

 

 

 

 

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