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Restless Legs Syndrome Center

Restless Legs Syndrome

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Diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome

There is no medical test to diagnose restless legs syndrome; however, doctors may use blood tests and other exams to rule out other conditions. The diagnosis of restless legs syndrome is based on a patient’s symptoms and answers to questions concerning family history of similar symptoms, medication use, the presence of other symptoms or medical conditions, or problems with daytime sleepiness.

Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatment for RLS is targeted at easing symptoms. In people with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome, lifestyle changes, such as beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and eliminating or decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, may be helpful. Treatment of an RLS-associated condition also may provide relief of symptoms.

Other non-drug RLS treatments may include:

  • Leg massages
  • Hot baths or heating pads or ice packs applied to the legs
  • Good sleep habits
  • A vibrating pad called Relaxis

Medications may be helpful as RLS treatments, but the same drugs are not helpful for everyone. In fact, a drug that relieves symptoms in one person may worsen them in another. In other cases, a drug that works for a while may lose its effectiveness over time.

Drugs used to treat RLS include:

  • Dopaminergic drugs, which act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Mirapex, Neupro, and Requip are FDA approved for treatment of moderate to severe RLS. Others, such as levodopa, may also be prescribed.
  • Benzodiazepines, a class of sedative medications, may be used to help with sleep, but they can cause daytime drowsiness.
  • Narcotic pain relievers may be used for severe pain.
  • Anticonvulsants, or antiseizure drugs, such as Tegretol, Lyrica, Neurontin, and Horizant.

Although there is no cure for restless legs syndrome, current treatments can help control the condition, decrease symptoms, and improve sleep.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 26, 2013
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