Q:

Is exercise or medicine better for restless-legs treatment?

A:

Quick Answer

Although medications are available to treat restless leg syndrome, lifestyle changes, including activity and exercise, are typically more effective because medications may lose effect over time, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. One medication to manage symptoms for all individuals does not exist as of 2015.

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Full Answer

Treatments and activity recommendations for restless leg syndrome are directed toward relieving symptoms because a cure does not exist as of 2015, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Patients experiencing pain and discomfort from restless leg symptoms often find relief from symptoms through stretching and physical therapy, according to WebMD. Relaxation techniques and exercise can help relieve tension in the leg muscles. Additional methods to relieve symptoms include taking hot or cold baths, applying cold or hot packs to the affected areas, and limb massages. Whirlpool baths can also help vibrate the leg muscles and stimulate feet and toes.

Lifestyle changes, such as decreasing use of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, may help to reduce discomfort from restless leg symptoms, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Some physicians prescribe medications, such as drugs that increase dopamine, to supplement exercise and activity regimens. These FDA-approved medications may produce dizziness and nausea in some patients and are not recommended for long-term use.

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