Finding the right restless leg syndrome medication can be a challenge. You could be one of the people who have tried self-help, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies without success. Or it could be that you have tried one of the medications noted here and found remission from your symptoms or, as too often happens, found that medications either produced little change or complicated matters through aggravating side effects. Many people go the medication route at the urging and guidance of their doctors. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this, unless you've taken a principled stand against medicines. But if you're like many folks you have not really considered the full scope of medications available for treating restless leg syndrome.
You may have to take a trial and error approach treatment with medications because there is no one specific medication that has been developed for restless leg syndrome, despite the fact that it is quite a pervasive syndrome, affecting up to 10% of the population. One of the extremely frustrating facts about RLS is that no two people seem to respond to treatment interventions the same way. With that in mind here is a review of some of the commonly prescribed medications.
Dopaminergic agents are often considered first because of the fact that they can supplement the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is central to communication between nerve cells in the central nervous system, specifically those having to do with muscular movement. These medications can include Mirapex and Requip. Both of which are the brand names marketed through pharmacies and physicians.
A similar class of drugs includes the dopamine precursors. These medications are often used to control movement in Parkinson's patients. Medications are labeled under the name Sinemet.
Benzodiazepines, prescribed as a sedative, have often been prescribed for restless leg syndrome specifically, Klonopin. Other medications also under the benzodiazepines classification can include Xanax, Valium, and Restoril.
One class of drugs that have been around for quite some time but have potentially serious side effects includes the opiod narcotics. These are best used in low doses if at all, and include Darvon or Codeine. If you have very severe restless leg syndrome your physician may consider prescribing stronger drugs such as Percocet or Vicodin. However, you should be aware of the addictive qualities of these medications and of the fact that they can be overly sedating and also may lead to sever withdrawal symptoms.
Anticonvulsant medications, medications that help prevent seizure activity, have also been prescribed for restless leg syndrome. They have been shown to decrease restlessness, sensory abnormalities, and sleep disorders. One of the medications for seizures, Tegretol, has often been prescribed for RLS. A recently developed medication, Neurontin has been prescribed more recently as there's some evidence that it might be more effective in individuals who are experiencing mild or moderate RLS with leg pain.
Muscle relaxants are still another classification of medications that have been used with RLS. These medications are thought to block nerve activity in the spinal cord thus helping to control symptoms of spasmodic jerking in the legs.
Now you can tell that there are a number of different drugs that have been under consideration for treatment of RLS. Unfortunately, the jury is still out as to which of these medications are most effective and it seems to be an individual response rather that dictates which is most effective in targeting the exact symptoms of restless leg syndrome. The other unfortunate aspect of all of these medications is that they all come with potential side effects. The side effects vary according to the individual, the dosage, and interaction with other drugs.
If you're suffering from RLS you need to ask yourself whether the risk is worth the potential rewards when it comes to medication. Naturally that can be answered only when you consider how much you're suffering from restless legs at the current time and your history when it comes to sensitivity to drugs. If you do attempt the route of prescribed medicines expect that you might need to try different medications to see what kind of response you have. Monitor your response over a given time frame.
Some medications you will know right away are not for you. With others the changes may be more subtle or the benefits might outweigh any kind of consequence, such as weight gain, that you endure. Always work in conjunction with your physician. However, if your physician seems limited in their choice of medications, or only steer you down one path, realize that there are other potential remedies for restless leg syndrome that you can consider.