Restless Legs Syndrome | Treatment

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What is the treatment for RLS?

Treatment for RLS includes medicines and lifestyle changes. See the box for a list of things that you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms.

Medicines used to treat Parkinson's disease can help reduce tremors and twitching in the legs. If your iron levels are low, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement. Sleep aids, muscle relaxants (called benzodiazepines) and pain medicines (called opioids) may also relieve symptoms. In some cases, an anticonvulsant medicine (usually used to stop seizures) can be helpful. For many cases of RLS, a combination of medicines is usually needed to best treat the condition. Your doctor may prescribe several trials of medicine before finding one that works best for your case of RLS.

Lifestyle changes to treat RLS

  • For mild symptoms, use an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce twitching and restless sensations.
  • Cut back on alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
  • Try taking a hot bath and massaging your legs before bedtime to help you relax.
  • Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can help you relax before bed.
  • Apply warm or cool packs, which can help relieve sensations in your legs.
  • Try to distract your mind by reading or doing a crossword puzzle while you wait for sleep to come.
  • Moderate exercise may help, but don't overdo it -- exercising vigorously or late in the day may make symptoms worse.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Also try to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night.

What else can I do?

Keep your doctor posted on how you're feeling. He or she can suggest different relaxation techniques and can change your medicine if it's not helping. You may want to join a support group to talk to other people who are suffering from RLS. Also, because RLS tends to run in families, you may want to talk to your relatives about your RLS and see if they have similar symptoms.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 11/05

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