How do medications treat restless legs syndrome?

Several prescription drugs can help relieve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Some medications used to treat Parkinson's disease have been shown to be helpful for people with RLS. The FDA has also approved two prescription drugs for moderate to severe restless legs syndrome: ropinirole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex). Opioids and anti-seizure medications are also effective in some cases.

There are some other medications available to treat restless leg syndrome.  You can ask your doctor about gabapentin, carbamazepine, and medications like clonazepam or amitriptyline.  These and others may be options for you depending on your other medical conditions and current medications.  Because different people react differently to medication, these may work better for you.
The other common medication is ropinirole (Requip) and occasionally pregabalin (Lyrica).
There are a variety of medications available to treat restless legs syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe one medication or a combination of drugs for restless legs syndrome.
  • Parkinson's disease medications: These drugs replace a chemical in your brain called dopamine. If you have restless legs syndrome, you are not at increased risk for Parkinson's disease. However, the same medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease are often helpful in treating restless legs syndrome.
  • Sleeping pills: Hypnotic sleeping pills may help you fall asleep more easily.
  • Certain antiseizure medications: Drugs used for the treatment of epilepsy may help treat restless legs syndrome.
  • Narcotic pain medications: Opioids such as codeine or oxycodone can relieve symptoms of restless legs syndrome. These drugs have a risk of addiction.
  • Iron supplements: If tests show you have an iron deficiency, a doctor may recommend that you take a supplement. Do not take iron without a doctor's advice. Too much iron can harm your liver.
In some cases, you may build a tolerance to the medications over time. When this happens, you will need to talk to your doctor, who may recommend that you change your medication.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.