The People's Perspective on Medicine

Parkinson’s Drugs for Restless Leg Syndrome?

Q. My wife suffers unmercifully from Restless Leg Syndrome. Over the years physicians have prescribed a variety of medications, but only two worked. Both are powerful pain relievers–Talwin and Vicodin. She took Vicodin for a broken rib and it allowed her to get some much needed sleep. She was told that both drugs are addictive and will no longer be prescribed for her. She is in desperate need of something that works.  

A. Narcotic pain relievers such as Talwin and Vicodin are not usually prescribed for long-term treatment of restless leg syndrome. This condition often occurs as people are falling asleep. They develop an uncomfortable, creepy-crawly feeling in the legs that causes agitation. Moving the legs or even getting up and walking around helps for a little while, but makes sleeping difficult.  

Oddly enough, medications that are prescribed for Parkinson's disease have been shown to be useful. Neurologists have examined Mirapex or Permax and found each drug helpful (Neurology 1999). Your wife's doctor should check on whether such a medicine would be appropriate for her. 

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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    I have had RLS for over ten years, I was put on Oxycodone for severe pain in my arms. This allowed me to sleep, but Drs. Would not let me have due to the fact I am using Medical Marijuna. This however doesn’t help my RLS, but it does help w/my Arthritis. I am on Mirapex right now, it stops working for me after a few years, then my ADR. Puts me on Requip. But that isn’t working any more either. The only True relief I can get is to soak in an extremely hot bath. That works for a few hours, but my sleep is, to state a fact, is restless and not very refreshing. I awake as tired as I was the nite before, only now, more intense than others.

    I have had restless leg syndrome for over 10 years now. I started out taking Klonopin, which was prescribed by my GP. After several years, and the RLS getting worse, I went to a neurologist, where they prescribed Mirapex. This seemed to help for a while, but I still have issues with my legs not wanting to keep still. Even just sitting to watch tv is a struggle. My legs twitch, and sometimes even will jerk to the point where I can’t stand to sit any longer. Same thing when I lay down to go to bed. Riding in the car is sometimes very trying for me. I’m wondering if the “RLS” is something else.

    My neurologist prescribed levadopa and sentimet (sp?)for restless legs and they triggered a long-dormant case of Syndenham’s (?)Chorea which I had at age 13. (I am now eighty.) I now take clonasapam and codeine.

    My doctor prescribes Klonopin to relieve my RLS and it works for me. It is an anti-anxiety medication that relaxes you. I take it about 1-2 hours before I go to sleep. It will make you sleepy.

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