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Medications for Restless Legs Syndrome

Other names: Ekbom Disease; RLS; Willis-Ekbom Disease

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a nerve disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, usually overwhelming, urge to move them.

What are the Symptoms of RLS?

Symptoms usually start in the evening just as you sit down to relax, and may progressively worsen throughout the night. Both legs are usually affected although one may be worse than the other. In more severe cases, the arms and lower trunk may also be affected. RLS affects more than twice as many women as men.

Four out of five people with RLS have PLMS (Periodic Limb Movement of Sleep) as well. These twitchy movements can be so violent that they often jerk the person awake, making for an exhausting night and very little sleep!

What Causes RLS?

Although researchers have found a genetic basis to RLS - meaning if one of your family members has it then you are at higher risk - they still don't know what causes it.

A lack of dopamine (a type of chemical transmitter in the body) or low iron is thought to play a role, and the syndrome is also strongly associated with depression or anxiety disorders. RLS may be the only complaint a person has, or it may seem to follow on from another disorder.

How is RLS Diagnosed?

There is no specific exam or lab test a doctor can do to determine if you have RLS. Your description of what happens to your body when you try to relax is usually sufficient. Tell your doctor if you have:

  • An overwhelming urge to move your limbs, accompanied by an uncomfortable or tingling sensation
  • Funny sensations in your legs triggered by rest, relaxation, or sleep, and relieved with movement
  • Symptoms that are worse at night and better in the morning.

Since RLS can occur because of another condition, your doctor may still run a few tests. RLS is more common in people:

  • With iron deficiency
  • Who are pregnant, especially in the third trimester
  • With either low or high thyroid levels
  • With rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, or diabetes
  • Taking certain medicines, such as antinausea pills (antiemetics), antipsychotics, antidepressants, and some antihistamines.

How is RLS Treated?

RLS can be severe in up to 20% of sufferers and medications may be considered if symptoms are severe or distressing and daytime functioning is affected by poor sleep quality. Medications may include:

  • Dopamine agonists
  • Levodopa/carbidopa
  • Gabapentin, Gabapentin enacarbil, pregabalin
  • Iron supplements if there is a deficiency
  • Magnesium supplements.

Drugs Used to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rx / OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol Reviews Rating Popularity
ropinirole C N X 249 reviews
6.6

Generic name: ropinirole systemic

Brand name:  Requip

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Requip C N X 94 reviews
6.5

Generic name: ropinirole systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Mirapex C N X 92 reviews
7.5

Generic name: pramipexole systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

pramipexole C N X 162 reviews
7.0

Generic name: pramipexole systemic

Brand name:  Mirapex

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

gabapentin Off Label C N X 108 reviews
7.5

Generic name: gabapentin systemic

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

clonazepam Off Label D 4 X 75 reviews
8.4

Generic name: clonazepam systemic

Drug class: benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Neupro C N X 34 reviews
8.5

Generic name: rotigotine systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Sinemet Off Label C N X 15 reviews
7.7

Generic name: carbidopa / levodopa systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

tramadol Off Label C 4 X 105 reviews
8.6

Generic name: tramadol systemic

Drug class: narcotic analgesics

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

carbidopa / levodopa Off Label C N X 31 reviews
8.6

Generic name: carbidopa / levodopa systemic

Brand names:  Sinemet, Sinemet CR, Parcopa

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

pregabalin Off Label C 5 X 8 reviews
7.0

Generic name: pregabalin systemic

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Horizant C N X 23 reviews
7.1

Generic name: gabapentin enacarbil systemic

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

clonidine Off Label C N X 5 reviews
7.4

Generic name: clonidine systemic

Drug class: antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

rotigotine C N X 35 reviews
8.5

Generic name: rotigotine systemic

Brand name:  Neupro

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

gabapentin enacarbil C N X 25 reviews
7.0

Generic name: gabapentin enacarbil systemic

Brand name:  Horizant

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

lamotrigine Off Label C N X 1 review
1.0

Generic name: lamotrigine systemic

Drug class: triazine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Sinemet CR Off Label C N X 1 review
0.0

Generic name: carbidopa / levodopa systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

levodopa N N X 1 review
8.0

Generic name: levodopa systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

Parcopa Off Label C N X Add review
0.0

Generic name: carbidopa / levodopa systemic

Drug class: dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Topics under Restless Legs Syndrome

Learn more about Restless Legs Syndrome

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

ICD-10 CM Clinical Codes (External)

Legend

Rx Prescription Only
OTC Over the Counter
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter
Off Label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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