Practice guideline summary: Treatment of restless legs syndrome in adults

John W. Winkelman, Melissa J. Armstrong, Richard P. Allen, K. Ray Chaudhuri, William Ondo, Claudia Trenkwalder, Phyllis C. Zee, Gary S. Gronseth, David Gloss, Theresa Zesiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Objective: To make evidence-based recommendations regarding restless legs syndrome (RLS) management in adults. Methods: Articles were classified per the 2004 American Academy of Neurology evidence rating scheme. Recommendations were tied to evidence strength. Results and recommendations: In moderate to severe primary RLS, clinicians should consider prescribing medication to reduce RLS symptoms. Strong evidence supports pramipexole, rotigotine, cabergoline, and gabapentin enacarbil use (Level A); moderate evidence supports ropinirole, pregabalin, and IV ferric carboxymaltose use (Level B). Clinicians may consider prescribing levodopa (Level C). Few head-to-head comparisons exist to suggest agents preferentially. Cabergoline is rarely used (cardiac valvulopathy risks). Augmentation risks with dopaminergic agents should be considered. When treating periodic limb movements of sleep, clinicians should consider prescribing ropinirole (Level A) or pramipexole, rotigotine, cabergoline, or pregabalin (Level B). For subjective sleep measures, clinicians should consider prescribing cabergoline or gabapentin enacarbil (Level A), or ropinirole, pramipexole, rotigotine, or pregabalin (Level B). For patients failing other treatments for RLS symptoms, clinicians may consider prescribing prolonged-release oxycodone/naloxone where available (Level C). In patients with RLS with ferritin ≤75 g/L, clinicians should consider prescribing ferrous sulfate with vitamin C (Level B). When nonpharmacologic approaches are desired, clinicians should consider prescribing pneumatic compression (Level B) and may consider prescribing near-infrared spectroscopy or transcranial magnetic stimulation (Level C). Clinicians may consider prescribing vibrating pads to improve subjective sleep (Level C). In patients on hemodialysis with secondary RLS, clinicians should consider prescribing vitamin C and E supplementation (Level B) and may consider prescribing ropinirole, levodopa, or exercise (Level C).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2585-2593
Number of pages9
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 13 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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