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Restless Legs Syndrome in People with Multiple Sclerosis

Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome in People with MS (continued from Page 1)


Updated April 13, 2009

What Can I Do to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome and Get Some Sleep?

Depending on the frequency of your troubles with restless legs syndrome, the following treatments are used:
  • Avoidance of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) might be the next choice for people with MS, as it is fairly well-tolerated and used for spasticity and neuropathic pain symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
  • Low potency opioid-based drugs or opioid agonists, such as propoxyphene napsylate, ropoxyphene hydrochloride, codeine or tramadol, may be tried, but may contribute to daytime fatigue.
  • Benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine agonists, such as diazepam (Valium) and clonazepam, have also been used with success, but could also cause fatigue to worsen. However, triazolam, zolpidem or zaleplon are shorter-acting and might be more suited to people with MS experiencing fatigue. The “benzos” (especially the last three) will probably only be used if you need some help for a week or two at a time, as they can be habit-forming.

My Bottom Line: If there is ANYTHING interfering with a person with MS getting a good night’s sleep, it is very important to figure out the cause and eliminate it to the extent possible. When asked, most people with MS say that fatigue is our most disabling symptom (I’m raising my hand). While good sleep might not eliminate fatigue, a sleepless night due to restless leg syndrome (or anything else) may mean the difference between “getting by” and complete inability to function.

Also, those of us with MS live with plenty of “unpleasant sensations” that are very difficult or impossible to treat. Unlike some of the MS-related parasthesias, RLS is very treatable. If you think you have RLS, go talk to your neurologist and start working on getting some rest.

Want to learn more? See UpToDate’s topic, "Restless legs syndrome," for additional in-depth, current and unbiased medical information on this syndrome, including expert physician recommendations.


Tarsy, Daniel and Sheon, Robert P. “Restless legs syndrome.” UpToDate. Accessed: March 2009.

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