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How is restless leg syndrome treated?

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Quick Answer

While the administration of medication may help, treatment for restless leg syndrome, or RLS, requires finding the underlying cause of the condition and treating it; for example, if nicotine, caffeine or alcohol is causing RLS, avoiding those substances can improve RLS symptoms, according to WebMD. Underlying medical conditions may also be causing RLS and should be evaluated. These include Parkinson's disease, thyroid disease, varicose veins, kidney disease, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes and anemia.

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How is restless leg syndrome treated?
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Full Answer

Some other ways to treat RLS include electrical stimulation of the toes and feet before bedtime, relaxation techniques and exercise. Limb massage, application of hot or cold packs to the area affected, whirlpool baths and stretching may also prove beneficial in coping with RLS.

Some medications may be given to treat RLS. These medications can be used on their own or in combination with one another. Dopamine agonists such as Requip or Neupro act as neurotransmitters in the brain to control RLS symptoms.

Dopaminergic agents such as Sinemet may improve the leg sensations experienced with RLS by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain. Xanax and Klonipin, which are benzodiazepines, are sedatives that can be prescribed to help RLS sufferers sleep better, while opiates may be prescribed to relieve RLS symptoms as well.

Benzodiazepines help patients sleep better, but these medications can cause daytime drowsiness without removing the leg sensations. Common examples of sleep medications and muscle relaxants include zolpidemn, clonazepam, temazepam, eszopiclone and zaleplon.

Avoiding coffee and other products that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, soft drinks and tea, can help relieve symptoms of restless legs syndrome, according to Mayo Clinic. Because stress and fatigue can worsen restless legs syndrome, learning and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can alleviate symptoms. Some patients with restless legs syndrome report that adjusting their schedule and sleeping and waking up later in the day help them practice good sleep hygiene as well.

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