Rest Your Legs

A drug for treating Parkinson's may help treat restless leg syndrome

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia say that a drug prescribed for Parkinson's disease may also treat restless legs syndrome (RLS) without the harmful side effects of current therapies.

Rasagaline is prescribed to treat Parkinson's, a disease caused by a dopamine insufficiency. Although the cause of RLS is unknown, research suggests a dopamine imbalance. At the moment, Dr. Shyamal Mehta, neurologist and neuroscientist, and her colleagues at the Medical College of Georgia are testing the safety and efficacy of Rasagaline in treating RLS. Because the drug has had few side effects with Parkinson's patients, the researchers believe it could prove an effective alternative for current treatments of RLS, which can cause behavioral problems.

The drugs currently being taken prompt dopamine receptors in the brain to produce more dopamine, which can increase feelings of euphoria. Under such an influence, patients have developed such problems as addiction, impulse-control problems, and hyper-sexuality. According to Dr. Mehta, the drugs "...can also cause increased sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks, which can be quite disruptive and dangerous."

Restless legs syndrome, which is more than a jittery leg, affects 10 percent  of the US population, according to the RLS Foundation. In addition to being linked to conditions such as iron deficiency, renal failure, pregnancy, and Parkinson's, RLS can also cause depression and daytime sleepiness.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 6, 2010
Last Updated:
October 7, 2013