Ropinirole for Restless Leg Syndrome

Last updated: March 28, 2019

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The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is also called Willis-Ekbom Disease. It is a disease that causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs. This is accompanied by an irresistible urge to move them.

The symptoms of RLS usually occur late in the afternoon or in the evenings. They are often most severe at night while a person is resting. A person can be sitting or lying in bed when the symptoms set in. If you suffer from RLS, you might be binge-watching your favorite series or just lying on the sofa when RLS rears its head.

RLS makes sleeping difficult. Because the symptoms of RLS are more severe during the night, it can make falling asleep difficult. It can also prevent someone from returning to sleep after waking up. RLS is a sleeping disorder because the symptoms get triggered by resting or attempting to sleep. It is also considered a movement disorder because it forces a person to move their legs to relieve the symptoms.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

It is difficult to determine what causes RLS. The cause of RLS is unknown most of the time. RLS has a genetic component found in families where RLS onsets before the age of 40. There are specific gene variants associated with RLS. There is also evidence that suggests that low levels of iron in the brain may be responsible for RLS.

Studies also suggest that RLS is related to a dysfunction in one of the sections of the brain that control movement. This section of the brain is the basal ganglia and it uses the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine produces smooth, purposeful muscle activity and movement. When these pathways get disrupted frequently, it results in involuntary movements. Those with disorders of the basal ganglia’s dopamine pathways, like Parkinson’s disease, have increased chance of developing RLS.

Other causes of RLS include:

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  • End-stage renal disease and hemodialysis
  • Medications like anti-nausea medications
  • Iron deficiency
  • Pregnancy
  • Nerve damage
  • Use of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine

What is Ropinirole?

Ropinirole is a prescription drug. You can get it in either immediate-release or extended-release tablets. Immediate-release drugs take effect quickly. On the other hand, extended-release drugs get released into the bloodstream slowly over time.

You might know Ropinirole by its brand names Requip and Requip XL. You can also get Ropinirole as a generic drug. Ropinirole may be used as a part of combination therapy. Your doctor may require you to take it together with other medicines.

How can Ropinirole treat Restless Leg Syndrome?

Ropinirole is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called dopamine agonists. This drug mimics the effect of dopamine in the central nervous system. In conditions like Parkinson’s disease and RLS, the cells responsible for producing dopamine die. Ropinirole acts in place of dopamine.

What are the side effects of Ropinirole?

Patients who take Ropinirole can experience bouts of drowsiness that can last several hours. It can also cause sudden sleepiness even while performing normal activities. This is why it is important to avoid activities that require complete mental awareness when using the drug.

Common side effects of Ropinirole include:

  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Swelling
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Temporary memory loss
  • Blurred vision or double vision

The use of Ropinirole can also cause some serious side effects. Seek immediate medical attention if the use of Ropinirole results in side effects that you feel are life-threatening. Some of the serious side effects include:

  • Fainting
  • Psychiatric effects like confusion, paranoia, aggressive behavior, and agitation.
  • Change in heart rate
  • Muscle tightness
  • Intense urges such as sexual urge, binge-eating, and impulse buying.

What else should I know when taking Ropinirole?

  • Although you can take Ropinirole on an empty stomach, it is better to take it with a meal. This will help reduce the chance of an upset stomach.
  • Stick to the schedule recommended by your physician. You need to take the drug precisely at the time prescribed.
  • Ropinirole is not available in every pharmacy. Some pharmacies order this drug only as needed.
  • This medication can cause severe allergic reactions. Signs of allergic reaction may include difficulty in breathing, difficulty swallowing, rash, and hives. It can also cause swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat.

Restless Leg Syndrome can deprive you of much-needed sleep. You’re trying to relax and you suddenly get uncontrollable leg movements. Not only can it prevent you from falling asleep, but it can also prevent you from getting back to sleep. It can deprive you of much-needed sleep and rest if left untreated.

Ropinirole is a proven treatment for RLS and its symptoms. However, there are side effects associated with this drug. It is important to understand how the drug works and what to expect while taking it. Once you do, Ropinirole can help you get back to a normal life.

Additional Resources:

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

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