Over the counter treatments for restless leg syndrome

Updated February 21, 2017

Restless leg syndrome is a common but frustrating condition. It can start in childhood, and it affects most sufferers throughout their lives. It tends to get worse with age and affects both men and women. While most drugs used to treat RLS are only available by prescription, there are some over-the-counter options. These can be combined with other home care techniques and medical treatment.


Restless leg syndrome is a condition in which people feel odd sensations in their legs and feet. The arms may also be affected. Common sensations include tingling, aching and burning. The symptoms are often helped by moving around, which is what gives the condition its name. RLS can happen at any time of the day, especially if a person sits still for a long time period, but it is usually worse at night.

Over-the-counter treatments

Common over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen can be used to treat mild cases of RLS. You should take the pills as soon as you feel the symptoms beginning. Ibuprofen can often relieve the twitching and annoying sensations caused by RLS. In addition to using OTC medication, you can take a warm bath or put warm packs on your legs. If RLS is keeping you awake, you can use an OTC sleeping medication. It won't reduce your symptoms, but it may help you get some rest.

Other medications

Most medications used to treat RLS require a prescription. Commonly used drugs include muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, and epilepsy or Parkinson's disease medication. Narcotics are sometimes used, but they can be addictive. Certain narcotics like oxycodone or hydrocodone may be combined with an OTC medication like acetaminophen.


Sometimes RLS is triggered by an iron deficiency. When this is the cause, it can be relieved through the use of an OTC iron supplement. Have a blood test to check your iron level before trying this treatment.

Home treatment

You can supplement OTC or prescription medications with other home treatments. You should stay away from alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. All of these may cause RLS symptoms to worsen. Doing moderate exercise regularly can help, but you shouldn't do it late in the evening or it can make the problem worse. Fatigue is a common RLS trigger, so if you go to bed at the same time every evening and get enough sleep, you may be able to avoid it.

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About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."