Restless legs syndrome

How might restless leg syndrome be treated?

Treatment for restless legs syndrome (RLS) may involve medication and/or finding other ways to relieve symptoms. In some cases, treating an associated medical condition (such as diabetes or peripheral neuropathy) may be effective in controlling symptoms of RLS.

Medications are usually helpful but no single medication is effective for all people with RLS. Therefore, trying different medications may be necessary. Common drugs prescribed to treat RLS include:

  • Dopaminergic agents (drugs that increase dopamine, often used for Parkinson disease) - have been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS when taken at bedtime and are considered the initial treatment of choice. However, long-term use can lead to worsening of symptoms, which is then reversible by stopping the medication
  • Benzodiazepines ("depressants" often used for anxiety, muscle spasms or insomnia) - may help obtain a more restful sleep, but can sometimes cause daytime sleepiness
  • Opioids such as codeine, propoxyphene, or oxycodone may be prescribed at night to diminish pain and help with relaxation
  • Anticonvulsants - can decrease the sensations such as creeping and crawling and nerve pain
  • The Relaxis pad - an FDA-approved medical device that can be placed at the site of discomfort when in bed and provides 30 minutes of vibrations

The following non-pharmacologic therapies may help to relieve symptoms of RLS:

  • For temporary relief: moving the affected limb(s); massaging the legs; taking a hot bath; or using a heating pad or ice pack
  • Making lifestyle changes such as decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco; changing or maintaining a regular sleep pattern; getting moderate exercise
  • Taking supplements to correct deficiencies in iron, folate, and magnesium

Last updated on 05-01-20

Where To Start

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic Web site provides further information on Restless legs syndrome.

Last updated on 04-27-20

Name: International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society 555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
Milwaukee, WI, 53202-3823, United States
Phone: +1-414-276-2145 Fax : +1-414-276-3349 Email: Url:
Name: National Sleep Foundation 1522 K Street NW Suite 500
Washington, DC, 20005 , United States
Phone: 202-347-3471 Fax : 202-347-3472 Email: Url:
Name: American Sleep Association 110 W. Ninth Street, Suite 826
Wilmington, DE, 19801 , United States
Fax : 940-234-3357 Email: Url:
Name: Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation 3006 Bee Caves Road Suite D206
Austin, TX, 78746, United States
Phone: 512-366-9109 Fax : 512-366-9189 Email: Url:
Name: Project Sleep P.O. Box 70206
Los Angeles, CA, 90070,
Phone: 323-577-8923 Email: Url:

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