Restless legs syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) affects the nervous system causing a strange tingling, itching or burning sensation usually in the thighs, calves and feet. It results in the uncontrollable urge to move the legs and can disturb sleep.
- Thought to affect 1 in 10 people
- Symptoms can range from mild to severe
- Treatable with dopamine agonists
3 treatment(s) for Restless legs syndrome
- Effective treatment for restless legs syndrome
- Usually taken once a day
- Available in tablet form
- Eases restless legs symptoms
- Available in a number of strengths
- Reliable generic medication
Restless legs syndrome is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease and is a fairly common nervous system condition. Those living with the condition report unpleasant feelings often likened to a burning, tingling, cramping or throbbing sensation in the legs. Although symptoms are most often noticed in the legs they can also be found in the arms, head and torso as well as other parts of the body.
It is thought that up to ten per cent of the UK population receives an RLS diagnosis at some point during their life. It can develop at any time and in anybody. Women are more likely to be diagnosed than men and pregnant women in particular are more susceptible, especially during the final semestre. It is also possible to have secondary restless legs syndrome as a result of an underlying medical condition such as iron deficiency anaemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or kidney failure. Idiopathic RLS has been found to run in families due to an identified faulty gene. In these cases the symptoms tend to appear before the age of 40.
Neurologists have been led to believe that RLS is linked to the part of the brain called the basal ganglia. This part of the brain relies on neurotransmitters called dopamine to send signals to the rest of the body regarding movement. If the dopamine receptors are damaged incorrect messages can be sent to the muscles resulting in involuntary movements. Dopamine levels decrease naturally throughout the day which offers an explanation for RLS being more prevalent in the evening. RLS symptoms might be eased if certain relaxation techniques are adopted. Common advice includes going for a walk, stretching the muscle, doing some exercise such as yoga, massaging the area, taking a hot bath, using a hot or cold compress and distracting the mind with other activities.
Certain lifestyle aspects can trigger restless legs symptoms but are not thought to be causal factors. The triggers include being overweight, smoking, too much stress, a lack of exercise and some medications. RLS can sometimes be resolved by addressing these lifestyle factors. However, treatment is often suggested for those with moderate to severe RLS where a cause has not been established. Untreated RLS can lead to anxiety, depression and insomnia, therefore it is important to receive treatment if symptoms become unmanageable.
Dopamine agonists can be used to treat frequent and painful bouts of restless legs symptoms. Examples are Mirapexin, Ropinirole and Neupro. They all work in a similar way by targeting neurotransmitter receptors in the brain thus restoring dopamine levels. Regulated dopamine levels should reduce symptoms. Mirapexin and Ropinirole are tablets which are usually taken once a day; whereas Neupro comes in the form of patches that deliver the medication through the skin.
Please note that we do not provide restless legs treatments through our site. Speak to your GP in you are experiencing symptoms, or are looking to renew your prescription.
Mild cases of RLS can be self-managed with lifestyle changes. Doctors often advise RLS patients to quit smoking if they are a smoker, take up regular exercise and to maintain a strict bedtime routine, where stimulants such as caffeine are avoided.
When restless legs symptoms flare up you can sometimes ease them by walking, stretching, applying a hot or cold compress, taking a hot bath, massaging the area or adopting relaxation techniques.
The symptoms of restless legs can sometimes be an indication of an underlying medical condition such as anaemia or kidney disease. Any primary conditions, where present, should be addressed by a doctor first.
RLS treatment is usually advised for those living with moderate to severe cases and also when no known causal factor has been established.
More severe cases can be treated with dopamine agonists such as Mirapexin, Ropinirole and Neupro. Mirapexin contains the active ingredient pramipexole and Ropinirole uses ropinirole hydrochloride. Both of these are administered as oral tablets, usually taken once a day; whereas Neupro treatment contains rotigotine and comes in the form of transdermal patches that are placed in direct contact with the skin.
How do they work?
Dopamine plays an important role in transmitting instructions regarding movement to the rest of the body. Dopamine agonists are used to treat restless legs symptoms as insufficient levels of dopamine are often noted with the condition. Dopamine agonists act on the neurotransmitters in the brain, stabilising dopamine levels and thereby reducing symptoms.
What are the side effects?
The potential side effects caused by the three dopamine agonists that you can buy from our online pharmacy are fairly similar. The most common reactions include nausea, vomiting and headaches. For more details on side effects you should refer to each relevant product page.
Can I take them with other medications?
It is highly important to disclose your current or recent use of any other medications when consulting with your doctor. Some drugs may interact with restless legs treatment.
What’s the difference between the medications?
These three medicines are known as dopamine agonists. However, they each contain different active ingredients. Mirapexin contains pramipexole, Ropinirole uses ropinirole hydrochloride and Neupro contains rotigotine.
Mirapexin and Ropinirole are both produced as tablets that are taken orally. However, Neupro treatment is used as a patch which is placed onto the skin in order to deliver a regular amount of treatment transdermally. Neupro can be a good alternative for patients who are unable to tolerate swallowing tablets.
Should I take Mirapexin, Ropinirole or Neupro?
It depends on the treatment initiated by your doctor. To renew your prescription, or if you do not currently take treatment or are having symptoms for the first time, you should see your GP in person.
Are there different side effects?
The side effects are for the most part the same for all three medications and these might include nausea, sickness, dizziness and headaches. However, they do differ slightly so it is best practice to make yourself familiar with side effects by thoroughly reading the patient information leaflet.
Is it right for me?
Speak to your GP. If you are experiencing symptoms for the first time, they will be able to conduct tests or refer you to a specialist, who may be able to issue you with an appropriate treatment.
Please note we do not provide restless legs treatment through our site.
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