Diagnosis and Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

If you experience leg pain at night, you may be wondering if you have Restless Leg Syndrome. Nighttime leg pain can be caused by a variety of conditions including Restless Leg Syndrome. However, it may as well befall if you are sleeping in a way that restricts blood flow to your lower limbs or spend too much time sitting during the day.  

Diagnosing Restless Leg Syndrome

Your health care provider will take your medical history and ask for a description of your symptoms. A diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome is based on the following:

  • If you have a strong, frequently irresistible urge to move your legs that typically associated with an uncomfortable sensation.
  • If your symptoms begin or worsen when resting.
  • If your symptoms are partly or briefly relieved by activity, such as stretching or walking.
  • If your symptoms are worse at night.
  • The symptoms you have cannot be explained only by another behavioral or medical condition.
  • Your health care provider may conduct a neurological and a physical exam. Blood tests may be ordered to exclude other possible causes for your symptoms.

Medications for Restless Leg Syndrome

Some prescription medicines were developed to treat other illnesses, are available to decrease the restlessness in your legs. These include:

1. Medications that increase the dopamine in the brain

These types of medications affect levels of the chemical messenger dopamine in your brain. Some of the medications include:

  • Ropinirole (Requip)
  • Rotigotine (Neupro)
  • Pramipexole (Mirapex)

These are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of moderate to severe Restless Leg Syndrome. Short-term side effects of these medications are usually mild such as fatigue, nausea, and light-headedness.  

2. Drugs that affect the calcium channels

Certain medications work for some people with Restless Leg Syndrome. It includes:

  • Gabapentin (Neurontin or Gralise)
  • Gabapentin Enacarbil (Horizant)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)

3. Opioids

Narcotic medicines help relieve mild to severe symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome, but they might be addicting if used in high doses. Some medications may include:

  • Tramadol
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin or Roxicodone)
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla ER or Zohydro ER)

4. Sleep medications and muscle relaxants

These medications help you sleep well each night but they don’t reduce the leg sensations that might cause daytime sleepiness. These medicines are commonly only used if no other treatment offers relief. It may take several trials for you and your doctor to find the right medicine or combination of medicines that work best for you.  

Restless Leg Syndrome may cause sleep issues, major discomfort, and problems with daily functioning, so treatment must be a priority. Nonetheless, if they don’t help you, be sure to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can provide more information about each of these treatments and which one might be a good choice for you.

Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another and you may need to try several different medications or treatments. Keep trying until you find the treatment plan that works for you.

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