Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome is usually aimed at reducing the symptoms. Often doctors recommend lifestyle changes that are designed to help promote sleep. These include reducing alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco intake, maintaining a regular sleep routine and bedtime, and altering a patient’s sleep patterns. Some suggest taking a supplement to correct a deficiency in iron, folate, or magnesium. Regular exercise has been shown to help reduce Restless Leg Syndrome, but it is important not to overdo it. Relaxation treatments such as leg massage, hot baths, or heating/cooling pads can sometimes help. Unfortunately, while these treatments help, they are not a cure for the condition.
There are some medications that have been shown to help with Restless Leg Syndrome. Dopaminergics, usually used to treat Parkinson’s disease, are generally considered the treatment of choice. The most commonly prescribed treatment is ropinirole, which is the only medication approved for the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Benzodiazepines are sometimes prescribed for mild cases, but act by depressing the system so that patients sleep more easily, rather than by relieving the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. For patients with severe pain, doctors may try prescribing opioids such as codeine, propoxyphene, or oxycodone. Another option doctors may consider are anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine and gabapentin, which reduce the physical sensations of creeping or itching that many patients experience.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Restless Leg Syndrome. While you can learn to cope with the problem, and plan your life around it, generally the condition worsens over time. Support groups are available to help those affected with this lifelong syndrome.