Restless Legs Syndrome: The Treatment Options
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome that’s not connected to an underlying condition whatsoever, can effectively be managed with certain medications and lifestyle changes. However, if the accompanying symptoms are extremely severe, they can be cured by treating the underlying condition. For instance, iron deficiency anemia can be alleviated by taking iron supplements.
If it is associated with pregnancy, it will disappear naturally within one month of giving birth.
Several lifestyle changes might be needed to relieve the symptoms accompanying the restless legs syndrome. The commonest include:
- Quitting cigarette smoking
- Avoiding the consumption of stimulants in the evening
- Doing away with medications that can aggravate or even worsen the symptoms. If you realize that certain medications are responsible for your condition, you may have to consult your doctor for medical assistance.
- Regular exercising - However, avoid doing exercise before retiring to bed.
- Adopting healthy sleeping habits - make sure that you sleep and wake up at the same time every day, taking some time to relax before going to bed, not sleeping during the day, and avoiding caffeinated drinks before bedtime.
If you’re suffering from RLS, several measures might help in relieving your symptoms:
- Walking and stretching
- Massaging your legs
- Applying warm or cold compresses on the leg muscles
- Involving yourself with activities such as watching television and reading
- Taking hot showers in the evening
This form of treatment might be recommended if you are experiencing regular symptoms relating to the restless legs syndrome. Dopamine agonists increase the body’s dopamine levels. The following dopamine drugs may be prescribed by your doctor:
- Rotigotine skin patch
These drugs can occasionally induce sleepiness. Therefore, take caution when driving or operating some machinery after taking them. They can also cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
If you’re experiencing problems while using such treatments, you might be given additional medications to help alleviate your condition. Impulse-control disorder is a rare side effect resulting from the use of dopamine agonists.
Mild opiate-based painkillers like tramadol and codeine can help in alleviating the pain caused by the restless legs syndrome. Gabapentin is also prescribed to help sooth the painful symptoms associated with the restless legs syndrome. Although they can be quite effective, painkillers have several side effects including headaches, dizziness, and tiredness.
If your condition is interfering with your sleep, your doctor may recommend medications to help you sleep well. Such medications include loprazolam and temazepam. Sometimes, hypnotics are prescribed but only on a short-term basis.
Levodopa might be recommended if your symptoms are occasional. The reason is that if levodopa is taken daily, there is a greater risk that it can worsen your symptoms.
Levodopa is usually available in liquid or tablet form, and should be taken immediately after the symptoms or signs of restless legs syndrome are felt. This drug will make you feel tired and sleepy, so you shouldn’t drive or use machinery after taking it.
Risk for Cardiovascular Diseases
Research indicates that people suffering from restless legs syndrome are more likely to contract cardiovascular diseases like stroke and coronary heart disease.
The precise cause for the high risk is unknown, but it might be due to the fact that rapid leg movements are linked to increased blood pressure or heart rate. Sleep difficulties have also been associated with cardiovascular diseases. It is, therefore, advisable that you see your doctor for a confirmed diagnosis.