Medication is usually the last option that shall be tried by a person suffering from RLS. It is always advised to first treat any underlying condition of RLS such as iron deficiency or peripheral neuropathy. If no such conditions are present then the treatment should focus on lifestyle modifications. In the last resort when these are also not effective, one may opt for pharmacologic methods.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved of two medications for the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome. These are:
- Pramipexole – Brand Name is Mirapex
- Ropinirole – Brand Name is Requip
These medications were originally developed to treat Parkinson’s disease. These drugs increase the amount of Dopamine in the brain which leads to reduction in the motion of legs. The short term side effects of these medications are usually mild such as nausea, lightheadedness and fatigue.
Some other medications which are used in treating RLS include the following;
- Pain Killers such as Codeine, Vicodin, Lortab etc. These can provide relief in cases of severe and continuous pain. However these pills are addictive and should not be taken regularly. These may also cause nausea, constipation and dizziness etc.
- Muscle Relaxants such as Klonipin, Halcion, Ambien etc. These pills can help you sleep better at night but they do not eliminate the leg sensations. The side effects include daytime drowsiness.
- Anti Seizure Medications such as Neurontin, Tegretol, Epitol etc. These can be taken to reduce painful daytime symptoms of RLS. The side effects include dizziness and drowsiness.
It is important to be aware that no single medication is effective for everyone. In fact the medicine that works for one person may worsen the symptoms in others. Moreover these medicines lose their efficacy with time. It may take several trials for a patient and for the doctor to find the right medicine and correct dosage which is effective in the long term