How is RLS Treated?
There is no cure for RLS. Sometimes RLS can be controlled by diagnosing and treating an underlying condition, such as sleep apnoea (most common cause), peripheral neuropathy or diabetes. Treating the underlying disease can relieve many of the symptoms of RLS.
For people who have RLS with no diagnosed cause (like an underlying disease), treatment is focused on symptom relief. For those with mild to moderate symptoms, lifestyle changes are often suggested including:
- Taking supplements to increase iron, folate, and magnesium in the body;
- Developing and keeping a regular sleep schedule;
- Getting moderate exercise;
Taking hot or cold baths, rubbing or massaging the legs or other affected body parts, or using a heating pad or ice pack.
Health care providers may prescribe medicine for symptom relief. Three types of drugs are most often prescribed:
- Benzodiazepines – these drugs depress the central nervous system and allow people to sleep more, despite the RLS symptoms. They should not be used by people with sleep apnea (a person stops breathing on and off during the night).
- Dopaminergic agents – are drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease. They have been shown to reduce RLS symptoms and nighttime leg movements.
- Opiods – are painkillers and relaxing drugs that can sometimes help people with severe RLS symptoms.