Answered on: 7/30/2012
The availability of new information on MS care is increasing steadily thanks to continuing research. To view the most current information please
Is it common for MS patients to have restless leg syndrome?
Many of my MS patients complain of restless legs. However, the actual “restless legs syndrome” is somewhat different. People with that syndrome don’t have MS. Restless legs syndrome runs in families. It consists of an irresistible urge to move the legs, and movement of the legs relieves the symptoms temporarily. Consequently, people can’t sit or lie still for any duration of time. The syndrome can be treated with drugs called “dopamine agonists” that are otherwise used to treat Parkinson’s disease, and sometimes other classes of medications.
Restless legs complaints in MS are a little different. Often, the complaint is more sensory or related to spasticity.
The “sensory” type is related to altered sensation in MS. MS patients will complain of crawling sensations in the legs, pins and needles or burning/strange sensations that are relieved by leg movement. I usually treat these complaints with nerve pain medications such as Lyrica® or Gabapentin at night that help with the sensations, and improve sleep quality.
The other type of restless legs complaints relate to spasticity or “leg tightness” from MS. These MS patients complain of “tight” legs where they are stiff and often cramp up at night. I usually try a medication called Baclofen at night for these types of complaints, to relieve the spasticity (tightness/stiffness). It also has the side effect of drowsiness that helps sleep at night. People may also try stretching and exercising throughout the day to minimize spasticity. Yoga is good for spasticity.
There are many treatments for these types of symptoms. I would encourage MS patients with these types of complaints to go and see their doctors, because there are many treatment options.
More answers from Clinical Neurologist
More answers in the category: Symptoms and Management