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Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment

Medications

Physicians also may suggest a variety of medications, such as:
 
  • Dopaminergics
  • Benzodiazepines (central nervous system depressants)
  • Opioids
  • Anticonvulsants.
 
Unfortunately, no one drug is effective for everyone with RLS. In addition, medications taken regularly may lose their effect, making it necessary to change medications periodically.
 
Dopaminergics
Dopaminergic agents, largely used to treat Parkinson's disease, have been shown to reduce RLS symptoms and periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). Dopaminergics are considered the initial restless legs syndrome treatment of choice.

(Click Periodic Limb Movement Disorder for more information.)
 
Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines such as clonazepam and diazepam may be prescribed for patients who have mild or intermittent symptoms. Although benzodiazepines help patients obtain a more restful sleep, they do not fully alleviate RLS symptoms. These depressants may also induce or aggravate sleep apnea, which is a temporary absence of breathing during sleep.
 
Opioids
For more severe symptoms, opioids such as codeine, propoxyphene, or oxycodone may be used to treat restless legs syndrome. These medications are prescribed for their ability to induce relaxation and diminish pain. Side effects of these medications can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and the risk of addiction.
 
Anticonvulsants
Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine and gabapentin are also useful for some patients with RLS. These medications can decrease the sensory disturbances (creeping and crawling sensations). Possible side effects of anticonvulsants include dizziness, fatigue, and sleepiness.
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Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

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