What are the nonpharmacologic treatment options for restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

Updated: Feb 22, 2017
  • Author: Ali M Bozorg, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Sleep hygiene measures should be recommended to all patients. Moreover, patients with mild RLS who are sensitive to caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine should avoid these substances. Offending medications (eg, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], diphenhydramine, and dopamine antagonists) also should be discontinued when it is possible to do so.

Exercise may be helpful for some patients [36] ; however, this potential benefit has not been systematically studied. In general, physical measures are only partially or temporarily helpful and should be avoided before bedtime. Some patients benefit from different physical modalities before bedtime, such as a hot or cold bath, a whirlpool bath, limb massage, or vibratory or electrical stimulation of the feet and toes.

Nonpharmacologic management and sleep hygiene measures are the treatments of choice in children. A regular sleep/wake schedule and the elimination of stimulating activity and caffeine before bedtime are important measures.

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