What medications cure restless legs syndrome?
Daily drug treatment is recommended only for people who have restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms at least three nights a week, or as determined by the doctor. Drugs used to treat primary restless legs syndrome do not cure the condition, but only relieve symptoms. When medication is used to treat restless legs syndrome, the following drugs are
used individually or in combination:
Dopaminergic agents - Dopaminergic agents are the first-line drugs for most restless legs syndrome patients. These drugs usually relieve the discomfort of restless legs syndrome symptoms and improve sleep quality. They include carbidopa/levodopa (Sinemet), pergolide (Permax), pramipexole (Mirapex) and ropinirole (Requip).
Dopamine agonists - These agents also increase dopamine levels in the brain but are less likely than levodopa to cause certain side effects. These drugs have their own side effects. These side effects may be especially difficult for older people. Examples are pergolide mesylate (Permax), bromocriptine mesylate (Parlodel), pramipexole (Mirapex), and ropinirole hydrochloride (Requip).
Benzodiazepines - These drugs are sedatives that improve sleep quality. They include clonazepam (Klonopin), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion) and diazepam (Valium). Benzodiazepines appear to reduce nighttime awakenings due to PLMS. The benzodiazepine most commonly used to treat restless legs syndrome is clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril). The main disadvantage of this drug type is that it causes daytime drowsiness.
Opioids - Narcotic medications can relieve mild to severe symptoms, but they may be addicting if used in too high doses. Some examples include codeine, the combination medicine oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet), and the combination medicine hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin, Duocet).
Anticonvulsants - These medicines are especially useful in patients whose symptoms are painful. They include gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol and others) and valproic acid (Depacon, Depakene, Depakote). These agents are used to treat severe muscle spasms.
Other Agents - Clonidine (Catapres), a drug used for high blood pressure, is helpful for some patients. The anti-spasm drug baclofen (Lioresal) appears to reduce intensity but not frequency of movements.