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Battling Restless Leg Syndrome? Choose Your Weapon of Relief

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Restless Legs Syndrome  related image Photo: Getty Images

Have you ever tried to relax after a long day in your favorite recliner only to have a creepy-crawly, jumpy feeling in your legs? You feel like you want to kick your feet or shake your legs, but the sensation continues until you get up and become active again. This may also occur when you are sitting in an airplane and your legs just will not stay still. If this has happened to you, you may be suffering from restless leg syndrome (RLS).

About 10 percent of the U.S. population has RLS. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), "several studies have shown that moderate to severe RLS affects approximately 2-3 percent of adults (more than 5 million individuals). An additional 5 percent appears to be affected by a milder form." However, there are several ways, both medical and alternative, to alleviate the frustrating symptoms of RLS.

Although a number of medications have been used for treating RLS, Mirapex and Requip have been approved specifically for this condition by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Both are dopamine-based. Unfortunately, augmentation may occur with dopamine-based medication after long-term use, which may cause an earlier onset of symptoms, possibly with more intensity, the sensations may effect other body parts, and the duration of relief from the medication may become shorter.

UCB in Brussels has completed new 5-year data that showed that the medication Neupro® (rotigotine) demonstrated continued symptomatic clinical benefit with a low risk of augmentation. On-going research is being done in this area so be sure to discuss these important issues with your doctor.

A number of alternative remedies have been said to relieve RLS and are considerably less risky. Supplements such as iron, folic acid, vitamin B, and magnesium may be helpful. In addition, a warm bath before retiring for the night may also help relax the legs. Some patients have found relief wearing warm or heated-up socks. Acupuncture and electric nerve stimulation may be another option. Researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) are investigating the possible dopamine connection with the symptoms of RLS. A recent article on aolnews.com reported that a patient eased his symptoms of RLS with sex and masturbation. "The chemical release of dopamine in the brain triggered by masturbation and sexual intercourse could ease the symptoms," said sleep specialist and RLS expert, Dr. Mark Buchfuhrer. In my opinion, treatments of this nature are far more appealing than taking a pill.

Whether you treat your RLS symptoms with prescribed medication or use alternative methods, make sure you do plenty of research to choose the safest and most effective method for you.


Reviewed May 19, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a Comment19 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have a problem with RLS for many years. Hurts most when enjoying antidepressants drugs. The best way found to be the soap. I wrote about this blog:

September 11, 2014 - 11:43am

Hi Vonnie,

No, I haven't thought about sleep apnea nor been tested. The doctor didn't even bring it up when I saw her on Thursday. I'd be most unhappy to have to wear a mask at night, especially since I'm a side sleeper....I don't sleep well on my back at all, never have. We'll see what comes up. I'm going to try using potassium and magnesium together instead of just one or the other.

Will keep you posted.

September 5, 2011 - 6:17pm

Hi Lynda,

So sorry to hear your RLS is worse. As I had mentioned. Mirapex also gave me insomnia. It's ridiculous that we are given medicine that keeps up awake for a condition that keeps up awake!!

I don't think you had said, but do you also suffer or been checked for sleep apnea? I ask because since I'm back to wearing the cpap mask, my RLS is non-existant. You might ask your doctor about having a sleep study, if you haven't been tested.

I'll admit, having to wear the mask is not the greatest, but when sleep deprivation caught up with me, I was thankful for anything to help me get some sleep.

Good luck and keep us posted. I'll keep fingers crossed that blood test results come back fine. :)

September 5, 2011 - 5:50pm

Well, my restless legs finally got to the point where nothing was working and they were waking me from a dead sleep (if I was fortunate enough to drop off to sleep before they started up). I went to see my doctor, who is now running umpteen different blood tests on me. She prescribed Mirapex for me. The pharmacy gave me the generic (and at $94 for that I'm grateful). Unfortunately, they don't help me drop off to sleep, AND give me an massive headache within minutes of taking it. I seriously need to find an alternative to big pharmas chemical drugs. Think I'll try using both potassium and magnesium together, along with the cherries to see if that helps. The pulsing in my lower legs is pretty constant and even though it doesn't create the "need to move" in the legs all the time, it's just a weird feeling. I'll see what the doctor comes back with, but I really don't want any prescriptions.

September 5, 2011 - 8:41am

Ok, thanks. I couldn't remember if they checked or not. My bed partner told me that I 'jerk' more when I don't use my cpap machine. But sometimes, I just wanna be free!! lol!

June 7, 2011 - 7:43am
EmpowHER Guest

No, they don't test for RLS/EKD when you have a sleep study. There really isn't any test for RLS, you can tell by the symptoms. A sleep study tests for sleep apnea and PLMD. That is when you are sleeping and are moving or kicking all the time. It is said only your bed partner can tell if you have that. I think PLMD is for Post Limb Movement Disorder.


June 7, 2011 - 5:51am

Do they also test you for RLS at the sleep study or only sleep apnea?

June 7, 2011 - 5:30am

Betty, I can't say that I've noticed any food in particular that will set it off. Even eating healthy hasn't lessened it. Most nights I can ward it off, but there are still far too many nights that I can't and I am up and down for hours until I finally just drop to sleep.

June 6, 2011 - 8:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have sleep apnea also. I have had 3 sleep studies and have to go for another one next week. They are terrible for me. But the doctor says I may need the pressure on the CPAP adjusted or I may need oxy gen at night. Oh, woe is me.....

I thought that was weird too, that the Mirapex gives you insomnia. I also take Klonopin. I wonder if it does anything for me. It was the first medicine I was given for the RLS/EKD.

A wonderful book "Restless Legs Syndrome, Coping With Your Sleepless NIghts". Written by Dr. Mark Buchfuhrer an a couple other doctors. It is almost all you would want to know about RLS/EKD. I have great respect for Dr. Buchfuhrer. He has a sleep clinic in Downey, Cal. You can even email him with your questions and he will email you back, usually with in a couple days. I got my book from Amazon at a very reasonable price.


June 6, 2011 - 8:22pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Not surprised he can email everyone back...Downey, Ca was tiny town. Like 50 people lived there. Now maybe couple thousand since i have last been there.
Great place except for the snow. Right on Yuba river above from more famous places GrassValley/Nevada City.
I will look into his book since i live very near there.
Mirapex did not work ...i hurt from fibro and RA/Sle pain...between all of them either up up every half hour to hour or like last night ...i did not sleep hardly at all night before so slept about 3 hours than wake up and cannot get comfortable stay up on computer trying to not feel pain...so no sleep.
I notice i sleep much worse full moon as do all women in my family and my husband plus many others. you notice this anyone as well?
Hey Tahoe...are you from there? I spend time there...mainly southern but now live north near Oregon Border. So do not get down as much. So pretty! IT is all should see if they travel to ca to see Yosemite also see, mono lake drive north on 395 and cross over Carson valley to see Lake Tahoe. I picked up guy grew up back east NYC in Reno...he kept seeing small lakes saying is that Tahoe?
When he finally did and he seen Shasta Lake a lot...he was WOW! but he did same for Mono and Yosemite ...said their beauty cannot be captured by cameras etc.
thanks for starting this group! after all that you probably just like the name lol!

March 11, 2012 - 9:54am
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