Restless Legs Syndrome Treatments

Northwestern Medicine offers medication recommendations, lifestyle changes or a combination of both to manage your restless legs syndrome (RLS).


A number of medications are available to treat restless legs syndrome. Your physician may recommend you take one medication or a combination for your RLS. These include:

  • Parkinson's disease medications: These drugs replace a chemical in your brain called dopamine. If you have RLS, the same medications used to treat Parkinson’s are often helpful in treating RLS.
  • Sleeping pills: Hypnotic sleeping pills can help you fall asleep more easily.
  • Certain anti-seizure medications: Epilepsy drugs can help treat RLS.
  • Narcotic pain medications: Opioids (codeine or oxycodone) can relieve symptoms of RLS, however by using these drugs, there is a risk of addiction.
  • Iron treatment: If tests show you have an iron deficiency, your physician may recommend an iron supplement. Do not take iron without your physician's advice since too much iron can be harmful to your liver.

Sometimes, you can build a tolerance to medications over time. When this happens, you will need to talk to your physician, who may recommend you change medication.

Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes can help restless legs syndrome, including:

  • Exercise: Regular exercise such as walking or riding an exercise bike may relieve RLS symptoms. Exercising too much or at too great of an intensity can actually increase symptoms.
  • Stress reduction techniques: Stress can aggravate RLS. Relaxation-promoting activities such as yoga, meditation or other techniques can reduce your symptoms. This approach is especially helpful before bed.
  • Quit smoking and drink less caffeine and alcohol: These can worsen the symptoms of RLS. By avoiding these substances, you may be able to help your RLS.
  • Massage your legs or soak in a hot bath: Both of these can help relax your muscles and alleviate the symptoms of RLS.