Medications for Restless Legs Syndrome
Other names: Ekbom Disease; RLS; Willis-Ekbom Disease
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
- 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.
Frequently asked questions
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Topics under Restless Legs Syndrome
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (6 drugs)
Learn more about Restless Legs Syndrome
Symptoms and treatments
Medicine.com guides (external)
|Rating||For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).|
|Activity||Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.|
|Rx/OTC||Prescription or Over-the-counter.|
|Off-label||This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.|
|EUA||An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.|
|Expanded Access||Expanded Access is a potential pathway for a patient with a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition to gain access to an investigational medical product (drug, biologic, or medical device) for treatment outside of clinical trials when no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy options are available.|
|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|
|M||The drug has multiple schedules. The schedule may depend on the exact dosage form or strength of the medication.|
|U||CSA Schedule is unknown.|
|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.|
|X||Interacts with Alcohol.|
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.