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Suffering Side Effects from Mirapex for Restless Legs

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Q. I have been haunted with RLS (restless leg syndrome) for years. I took the drug Mirapex, only to get all the side effects: gambling, overeating and obsessing about sex. The drug totally ruined my life. What can you tell me about non-drug approaches?

A. Mirapex (pramipexole) can ease RLS symptoms but side effects such as compulsive eating, shopping and gambling, as well as hypersexuality, have been reported. Some people may fall asleep while driving.

Many readers tell us that minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium can help RLS as well as leg cramps. Some also find soap under the sheet helpful. We are sending you our Guide to Leg Pain with lots more tips for coping with leg cramps and restless legs.

  • Currently 3.8/5
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Was this information helpful? Average rating: 3.8/5 (38 votes)
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If you have more to say, post a comment below!

31 Comments

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I have had great success with leg cramps using V-8 juice that I read about on this site. I have a small juice glass of V-8 everyday. No longer wake up with leg cramps.

My husband had RLS. He didn't suffer so much from leg pain or cramps, he was just being driven crazy by his whole body, but especially his legs, itching him all night preventing him from sleeping. He would sometimes cause himself to bleed he itched so much in one spot.

When he told our doctor this the doctor immediately ordered a blood test for iron deficiency and recommended he take over-the-counter ferrous sulfate (two 325mg per day) until his itchiness went away, then one per day after that.

Well of course the test came back positive, he was dangerously low on iron in his blood and the iron pills worked miracles. His nightly battle with itchy legs completely went away and has not returned.

I've been taking 1 calcium (1070 mg, and one in the morning), 3 potassium (99mg)1 magnesium (250 mg) every night with Metamucil. It has cut down considerably my screaming leg cramps. I no longer feel restless leg syndrome. The soap didn't work for me. I hope this works for you.
Angela

My neurologist told me that RLS is tied to B12 levels as well as a low Ferritin level. I also have RLS and it has been greatly reduced by iron supplementation. Your iron level may appear fine but ask to be tested specifically for your Ferritin level - if it is low you will still need to supplement to get it up and keep it where it should be. I also recommend seeing an MD who also specializes in Functional Medicine.

RLS can also be caused by anemia or low blood iron. Check it out.

I have had Restless legs on and off for the last 40 years. Tiredness was the worst thing but since having soap at the bottom of the bed for the last five years, I haven't had a problem. I also have a piece of soap wrapped up in tissue which I put in my pocket if I find that my legs won't keep still in the evenings. It works every time for me.

I take a very tiny dose of Mirapex.- maybe a half or quarter of a the smallest dose along with 7mg. of temazepam. I think drs. prescribe way too much for RLS. I am surprised they do. I would love to get off all drugs but my body is addicted. I wish I never took any. I was up all night walking when I didn't take anything. It was torture. If anyone has a suggestion I would love to hear. You do not itch with RLS or have cramps. That is not RLS

To my understanding, leg cramps are not part of RLS so perhaps we are talking about two different issues here I think. RLS symptoms are literally legs that are restless when at rest. You would feel like you cannot stop moving your legs when you lay down, they get very uncomfortable and feel like ants crawling on your legs, usually causing a loss of sleep. This condition is tied somehow to B12 and Ferritin deficiencies and my neurologist tells me that is a known fact.

Please ask your neurologist to test you for those - if he/she won't then I would find a new one! Vitamin D and other nutrient deficiencies can also surely cause leg pains and cramping but again probably not actual RLS. In any case, some lab work and good nutritional supplements would probably help address any of the nutrient deficiencies which may also alleviate symptoms.

Unfortunately, on top of RLS, I also developed polyneuropathy (pins and needles and burning, serious pain) so other more severe symptoms, may mean another condition on top of RLS which would require a different medication for nerve pain. Gabapentin helps nerve pain and is also used for RLS. I've been using that with great success.

The soap trick seems to be working for me. Cramps happen much less frequently and less severely.

My son has been diagnosed with RLS. He was first prescribed ReQuip, which was not very effective. Then he was prescribed Mirapex. The drug eases his symptoms of "creepy, crawly" sensations in his legs while trying to rest. But, the side
effects are destroying him! He has been using cocaine and has unrelenting sexual urges.

Is there an alternative to Mirapex that would relieve his symptoms, without all of
these side effects?


Ok, I have RLS, and the symptoms are and include, legs jumping when sitting or lying down, or even when driving. Usually it is every night, but mostly when extra tired.

mirapex is affecting my feet and ankles. they are very dark and swollen as well as creating neuropathy in my feet to where I am scared I will be unable to walk in the near future. My neurologist just keeps throwing pills at me and I am unwilling to take them.

I have been on Mirapex almost 2 years with gradual increase from l25 mg to present dosage of 1 mg 2 x daily. He wants to put me on Sinemet w/ ldopa which I refuse to risk getting the side effects of drooling, muscle jerking and flailing around whcih happens to persons w/ Parkinson. My friend suggested that I take 1 tsp of Bicarbonate of soda pure and drink it with an 8 oz glass of water. any suggestions will be gratefully appreciated.

Last month I had major blood screens done and all are good ruling out diabetes, liver problems and thyroid problems. My B12 is supposedly very high (due to taking daily doses of 1200mcg .

I agree with you that itching and pain are not symptoms of RLS. I've had it for years and it is not on and off. If I forget to take my Mirapex one night or if I forget to take it until late at night, I'm up walking around, or exercising my legs. I wonder if I've become addicted; but it works well without any side effects, so I'm reluctant to stop using it.

I would welcome other ideas as well. I do take iron supplements because I have low levels otherwise; without the iron supplement, I cannot donate blood. Soap in the bed one night when I did forget to take my pill early did not help at all.

I agree rls is a straining aching awful feeling. I tried to stop the pramipexzole but I just ended up walking the floors all night which didn't help my rheumatoid arthritis. I have only had one side affect from the pills and that's a bit of brain confusion. It's not easy people don't understand, I am one of four kids and I am the only one that suffers with these things. But I suppose there are people with worse than us. Take care to all of you.

I'm 30 and for the last 7 years I have suffered from RLS, at the beginning I did not pay too much attention to it, but now symptoms are worse and I feel always tired and everybody ask me why do I look so restless and pale, I think my face is showing the results of not having quality sleep. My neurologist recommended mirapex, but I didn't take since I read it has bad side effects; I went to GNC and buy melatonin and is helping me. I wake up rested and no drowsy; melatonin helps me to fall asleep faster and remain asleep through the night, so I don't really feel my leg at all, and is all natural.

My wife is 43 and has suffered from RLS since she was 15 or so. Does anyone know if Mirapex has an ongoing effect on Blood Pressure. Spoke with a Pharmacist who found information on Ortho-hypothalmia (something like that) which is the period sitting or laying down to standing up quickly - blood pressure drops. She has not been able to get her blood pressure above Systolic 92 and Diastolic 65 no matter what time of day. Usually, it's reading 85 / 62 or somewhere in that neighborhood. We have added salt to her diet and taking sudafed which has had no impact on raising her blood pressure. We are submitting a blood sample for testing tomorrow.

Hello,
I have had RLS since I was a young child - now 43 I have tried everything for treatment with varying results. It appears to be hereditary as my mother and brothers have it also.

Itching and cramping are not RLS. You have uncontrollable urges and sensations in arms and legs that drive you nuts.
Different things trigger it for me but I have it everyday/night. Sweets, alcohol and sitting for long periods of time - flying overseas can be torture.

I found that codeine contin worked at suppressing the symptoms to where it was manageable - however I realize that it is a narcotic. I only take it at night and if boarding a flight for long (4hours +). Currently I am on Codeine Contin .50 and because of my desire to move from the Codeine Contin recently started Mirapex as well.

I have gained weight, my RLS now can kick in during the day while in a meeting or the boardroom, I have become almost narcoleptic and feel like I am in a fog most days. In other words I am struggling with weighing the benefits over symptoms.

If I am slow on taking my medication - watch out - RLS kicks in and in worse episodes.

RLS consumes you - if you are taking medication for it - you are worried about the doses, always focused on ensuring you have your prescription filled and have not misplaced it.

I have asked my doctor to find anything that can address this disease - it brings you to the point where you will try anything to try and have a normal nights sleep - for once.

I am not sure what soap in the sheets will do - I am looking for real solutions that allow me to have a normal productive life.

Thanks for all of your input - it is comforting to know that it isn't all in your head and there are others that suffer from the same issue.

I have had RLS for 1.5 years. I really don't know how much longer I can stand it. I average about 2 hour sleep a night, I work shift work and a non regular schedule, sometimes I go 3 days with no sleep.

My whole body is now falling apart, one illness after another, from exhaustion. There is no quality of life and if I don't get to sleep before 11 I have it bad for several days. I have no choice but to start mirapex but I am so worried about the side effects as I have a serious digestive disorder as well.

I also work in law enforcement so if it has the side effects I can't continue it as I carry a gun. I just don't know what else do to...:(

I realize I've had RLS for years now, but only recently saw a doctor for treatment as I thought RLS was sketchy. Due to severe sleeplessness I had to seek treatment. I average about 3-4hrs of sleep routinely that cause me to always be tired. I always struggle to get through the work week and use the weekend to try and recharge with limited success.

My doctor immediately ordered a sleep study to get facts on my sleep pattern. Results showed I have 65 legs/feet or RLS movements per minute which alarmed the doctor as this is extremely high and likely the cause of my issue. The study also revealed that I'm getting the normal amount of deep cycle and REM sleep. I was glad since it ruled out the need for CPAP treatment for sleep apnea. She ordered lab work to look at iron and kidney levels which were all in normal range.

I took my first Mirapex treatment (2 pills of the lowest dosage despite my doctor recommending 1) last night which put me to sleep in

I have had RLS for 10 yrs and up to one yr ago, my gradually increased Mirapex (up to 1.0 mg daily) has worked pretty well. Now, however, I'm miserable with RLS most of the time, the meds with Tylenol are def not working like they should. Went to a Neurologist recently, he doubled the med but...nada. Starting to fell like a compression leg cramp lately. Been up all nite again walking, crying and cussing at this thing. I hate it, just hate it, and wish I had an enemy to pass it along to. I'm starting to think its something else too but don't want to find out. No one would understand how we all feel unless they experienced this!

Hi kae you are not alone I understand what you are going through as I have severe restless legs too. My friends laugh when I say restless legs but if they had to suffer one night of it they would soon change their tune. I have been on mirapexin for 6 years gradually increasing the dose to get any relief but am now going to try and come off it. I tried cold turkey and it was hell so I started taking it again so this time I am going to wean off very slowly reducing by a quarter tablet a every 2 weeks. I am trying to get off these tablets because my legs are starting earlier in the day and its affecting one of my arms, its so miserable. How are you going on? Contact me anytime I understand.

Marie, I hope you're still on this site. You wrote exactly how I feel. I wonder if you've had any response privately or from your doctor about any kind of alternative to Mirapex, as I am experiencing heavy side effects.

If anybody else out there has an alternative to Mirapex, I really need to get off the stuff.

Thank you all for taking the time to let people like me, who have SUFFERED for nearly 30 years (49 years old now) with this torturous disease... and I DO mean suffer.

Hi there, I am new to this site. Just read all the comments since 2010. I have suffered with RLS for about 30 years. It used to be controlled by hot baths, warm milk, Calcium and magnesium supplements. That was when the symptoms were relatively mild to moderate. The last 4 years I have moved into severe symptoms, like some of you are describing. I have been taking Mirapex 1mg to 1 1/2mg nightly. If I take it on an empty stomach I have better results. My legs will calm after about an hour of taking mirapex. But before the medicine calms my legs I experience increase restless leg. I also get headaches, nausea and in a "fog" the next day. Even taking the mirapex I only get 5 to 6 hours of restless sleep if I'm lucky.

I read awhile back this year that scientist in Australia are finding that there is a site on the brain that indicates an anomaly with persons affected by RLS. I am speculating but if these studies continue and indeed they are finding a cause then maybe we have hope that an effect will follow. If I may suggest to all of you, why don't we study RLS and share our information with each other. We may collectively come up with something we can all benefit from. We don't want to give up, we need to be proactive. I am confident there is a solution to our symptoms and condition.

These comments are all true! I have RLS, my sister, my son, and my mom. I too take mirapex. I too have suffered for years. I am anemic, low on vitamin D. I have gained a lot of weight since being on mirapex. I take .5 at supper time and .5 at bed time. This works very well for me. If I don't remember to take at these times, my legs jump like I'm having a seizure. I would like to not take this pill either. But don't see any other workable solution!

I have been on maripex for 10 years now and it dose help but want off it for all the same reasons. I've just tried taking tonic water that has quinine in it. It seems to be helping but will let you know after about 3weeks if it improves. 8oz before bed or when needed.

Mirapex work great for about a year supposed to replace klonopin then the side effects started, the burning feet and pins and needles made it hard to walk, as it became less effective on original dose RLS got worse and had to take within 20 hrs then 18 hrs then started to have RLS like movements in my arms, neck, back, feet became so sensitive even pressure from blankets was unbearable and the withdrawal has been hell. Now even klonopin and oxycodone don't completely stop the RLS but at least the other side effects have diminished a great deal but not completely, and it's been 3 weeks since trying to ramp down. Stopping cold turkey made me feel suicidal.

I don't care what anyone says but RLS SUCKS !
I take Mirapex, lowest dose. I don't think RLS causes itching and cramping the Mirapex does.. I have fits of itching and have cried because it doesn't stop. I think it has something to do with the Dopamine levels and the Mirapex coming out of my system.
Anyone have any thoughts. I want my life back. I am thinking of changing meds, any suggestions ? Thanks.

Hello!
I am commenting back to my comment!
My son has been prescribed Lyrica, 3 times a day, 75MG.

I have not heard the usual complaints, and he seems
to be much relieved! He keeps the Mirapex close by, but I have not seen any decrease in the medicine bottle! He had a terrible fear of being without Mirapex, but I do believe he finally has a solution that works for him. RLS is a terrible affliction, and no one should have to suffer so much!

I have had RLS for as long as I can remember. Have been on a lot of different medications, which did not work. However, when I started taking Ropinrole (Requip) several years ago, I also found that it caused me to have strong urges to gamble. This has become a very bad problem for me. Not only financially but mentally. I cannot control the urge. I take this medication 4 times a day.

Is there any other medication for RLS that does not have the side effects of
gambling?

Hi there... I have had RLS over 15 years. Have used Mirapex all this time and have grown into a unhappy large woman with RLS.

Two years ago I stopped using it cold turkey without a problem. I slept a lot of the time on the couch as not to bother my husband. I spoke with my Dr. about marijuana therapy which is legal in Canada. I have been using it for RLS and sleep for the past 2 months.

I have lost 30 pounds, no leg movements and sleep like a baby with NO side affects. I also have a happy husband once again..

Dear itsme...Would you mind telling me exactly what type of marijuana therapy you used? Did you use hemp oil or what? I'm glad it worked for you.

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