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10 Questions About Restless Legs Syndrome

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When Should I See a Doctor About Restless Legs Syndrome?

You should see a doctor if RLS is causing problems in your life. Only you can decide if that is happening. You should also see a doctor if you are:

  • Losing sleep often
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Having trouble concentrating

You don't have to wait until one of these things happens. If you just want to feel better, see your doctor.

 

Are There Treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome?

There are four FDA-approved drugs for restless legs syndrome: Horizant, Mirapex, Neupro, and Requip. 

Doctors also use other drugs not specifically made to treat RLS. These include:

  • Anti-seizure medicines, such as gabapentin
  • Opiate pain medicines, such as hydrocodone, propoxyphene, and tramadol
  • "Sedative-hypnotics," such as clonazepam and zolpidem

 

What Else Can I Do to Cope With Restless Legs Syndrome?

Depression and anxiety commonly result from restless legs syndrome. If you have moderate to severe RLS, it's important to find ways to cope with the stress it can cause. Here are a few ways to take control:

  • Work with your doctor. A different drug or combinations of drugs are often necessary to control symptoms.
  • Join a support group. www.rls.org can get you started.
  • If you feel overwhelmed by RLS, talk with someone who treats mental health, like a psychologist or psychiatrist.

 

What Is the Connection Between Iron and Restless Legs Syndrome?

Not enough iron in the diet is one cause of restless legs syndrome. Taking iron pills may improve RLS in these people.

Even in people who are not anemic and have normal iron levels, iron levels may be involved. Studies show a "brain iron deficiency" in many people with restless legs syndrome. A doctor may prescribe iron supplements even if a person's iron levels are within normal range. However, too much iron can lead to liver damage and other health problems.

What Is the Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder?

More than 80% of people with restless legs syndrome also have periodic limb movement disorder, or PLMD. In PLMD, the arms or legs twitch or jerk during the night. The movements disturb sleep and can cause chronic sleepiness.

Many people have periodic limb movement disorder by itself and will never develop restless legs syndrome. If you think you have PLMD, see your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 21, 2014
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