Paul G. Yeh, Karen Spruyt, Lourdes M. DelRosso and Arthur S. Walters


March 2, 2023


Background: There are several well-known treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), including dopamine agonists (pramipexole, ropinirole, rotigotine), anticonvulsants (gabapentin and its analogs, pregabalin), oral or intravenous iron, opioids and benzodiazepines. However, in clinical practice, treatment is sometimes limited due to incomplete response or side effects and it is necessary to be aware of other treatment options for RLS, which is the purpose of this review.

Methods: We performed a narrative review detailing all of the lesser known pharmacological treatment literature on RLS. The review purposefully excludes well-established, well-known treatments for RLS which are widely accepted as treatments for RLS in evidence-based reviews. We also have emphasized the pathogenetic implications for RLS of the successful use of these lesser known agents.

Results: Alternative pharmacological agents include clonidine which reduces adrenergic transmission, adenosinergic agents such as dipyridamole, glutamate AMPA receptor blocking agents such as perampanel, glutamate NMDA receptor blocking agents such as amantadine and ketamine, various anticonvulsants (carbamazepine/oxcarbazepine, lamotrigine, topiramate, valproic acid, levetiracetam), anti-inflammatory agents such as steroids, as well as cannabis. Bupropion is also a good choice for the treatment of co-existent depression in RLS because of its pro-dopaminergic properties.

Discussion: Clinicians should first follow evidence-based review recommendations for the treatment of RLS but when the clinical response is either incomplete or side effects are intolerable other options can be considered. We neither recommend nor discourage the use of these options, but leave it up to the clinician to make their own choices based upon the benefit and side effect profiles of each medication.


DOI: 10.5334/tohm.739


Yeh, P. G., Spruyt, K., DelRosso, L. M., & Walters, A. S. (2023). A Narrative Review of the Lesser Known Medications for Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome and Pathogenetic Implications for Their Use. Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements, 13(1).