n mild cases of RLS, some people find that activities such as taking a hot bath, massaging the legs, using a heating pad or ice pack, exercising, and eliminating caffeine may help alleviate the symptoms. In more severe cases, medications are prescribed to control symptoms. Unfortunately, no single drug is effective for everyone with RLS. Individuals respond differently to medications based on the severity of symptoms, other medical conditions, and other medications being taken. A medication that is initially found to be effective may lose its effectiveness with nightly use, thus it may be necessary to alternate between different categories of medication in order to keep symptoms under control.
Although many different drugs may help RLS, the most commonly used are found in the following three categories:
Although there is some potential for benzodiazepines and opioids to become habit-forming, this usually does not occur with the dosages given to most RLS patients.
A non-drug approach called transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) may improve symptoms in some RLS sufferers who also have PLMS. The electrical stimulation is applied to an area of the legs or feet, usually before bedtime, for 15 to 30 minutes. This approach has been shown to be helpful in reducing nighttime leg jerking.
Due to recent advances, doctors today have a variety of means for treating RLS. However, no perfect treatment exists and there is much more to be learned about the treatments that currently seem to be successful.
The information provided is courtesy of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. For additional information on RLS visit the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation website at www.RLS.org.