Drugs for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Drugs do not cure periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) but can relieve symptoms. Note that many of the medications used to treat PLMD are the same as those used to treat restless legs syndrome.

  • Benzodiazepines: These drugs suppress muscle contractions. They are also sedatives and help you sleep through the movements. Clonazepam (Klonopin), in particular, has been shown to reduce the total number of periodic limb movements per hour. It is probably the most widely used drug to treat PLMD.

  • Dopaminergic agents: These drugs increased the levels of an important neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called dopamine, which is important in regulating muscle movements. These medications seem to improve the condition in some people but not in others. Widely used examples are a levodopa/carbidopa combination (Sinemet) and pergolide (Permax).

  • Anticonvulsants: These drugs reduce muscle contractions in some people. The most widely used anticonvulsant in PLMD is gabapentin (Neurontin).

  • GABA agonists: These agents inhibit release of certain neurotransmitters that stimulate muscle contractions. The result is relaxation of contractions. The most widely used of these agents in PLMD is baclofen (Lioresal).

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on October 16, 2015
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