Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatment of restless leg syndrome is first directed toward any underlying illness, if known. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition such as iron deficiency, pregnancy, anemia, kidney failure, peripheral nerve damage, diabetes or benign essential tumor greatly relieves symptoms of RLS. Doctors have long focused on trying to increase dopamine and iron in the brain as ways to improve Restless Legs; for example, a search for iron deficiency by blood testing to reveal underlying iron deficiency anemia. Again if RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME is felt to be secondary, attempts are made to improve the underlying condition. For example, if poor circulation is a factor, attempting to improve the circulation may reduce the RLS symptoms.

For patients with idiopathic RLS, treatment is directed toward relieving symptoms. Although movement brings relief to those with RLS, it is generally only temporary. For those with mild to moderate symptoms, prevention is key, and many physicians suggest certain lifestyle changes and activities to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Decreased use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may provide some relief. Physicians may suggest that certain individuals take supplements to correct deficiencies in iron, folate, and magnesium. Studies also have shown that maintaining a regular sleep pattern can reduce symptoms. Some individuals, finding that RLS symptoms are minimized in the early morning, change their sleep patterns. Others have found that a program of regular moderate exercise helps them sleep better; on the other hand, excessive exercise has been reported by some patients to aggravate RLS symptoms. Taking a hot bath, massaging the legs, or using a heating pad or ice pack can help relieve symptoms in some patients. It has been shown the diet can affect the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome, so avoid stimulant foods if you have RLS. Acupuncture has also been known to be helpful. Although many patients find some relief with such measures, rarely do these efforts completely eliminate symptoms.

Conventional treatment for RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME involves primarily the use of medications that are directed toward increasing dopamine. The newest treatments for RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME are medications like ropinirole (Requip®) which increase the dopamine in the body and directly overcome the cause of the disorder in most people. As far as the FDA is concerned, dopamine agonists like Requip®, Mirapex® and Permax® are the preferred form of treatment for those with Restless Legs Syndrome and all of these are relatively new medications. At some point, everyone with RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME tries one or more of the medications available for the disorder. Unfortunately, the side effect profiles, some of which can be sedating, can make them difficult to use as therapy for Restless Legs Syndrome.

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