What can I do if my CPAP machine does not help my restless legs syndrome?

This question was asked in Houston, Texas on 12/06/2012.
I have restless legs syndrome. I am on Requip and was told that my restless legs syndrome could be due to sleep apnea. I had a sleep study in 2007 and have used my CPAP machine every night but see no relief with my RLS. What can I do?

Doctors Answers (4)

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 12/10/2012

CPAP will NOT help Restless Legs Syndrome unless indirectly by improving your sleep and you become less sleepy. You may need a higher dose of Requip, a change in medication. Also, checking your iron stores (blood work) may show you need iron.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 8/10/2012

CPAP is designed to treat sleep disordered breathing like snoring and apnea. It doesn't have any effect on Restless Legs which is a separate sleep disorder. This disorder is due to a Iron based enzymatic defect of the neurotransmitter Dopamine. This is treated by giving the patient pharmacologic doses of Dopamine in the form of medicine like Requp, Mirapex or Sinemet.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 8/9/2012 6

If sleep apnea is not well controlled can cause relapse of RLS symptoms. Sometimes being on Requip for several years can also contribute to relapse of RLS. I have some patients who did very well on Magnesium which you can get Over the counter. If nothing works, consider seeing a sleep specialist.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 8/8/2012 5

Restless legs syndrome refers to leg movements while awake. Once you fall asleep, if the leg movements continue, we refer to them as periodic leg movements. You have lost the voluntary control of your leg movements. If you awaken at night and have leg movements, those would be restless leg movements. Often, patients with obstructive sleep apnea have leg movements while asleep and the movements disappear with CPAP therapy. If they do not disappear with CPAP then you have Periodic Limb (Leg) Movement Disorder which is another sleep disorder in addition to your obstructive sleep apnea. Requip can be very effective but does not work for everyone. There are other dopamine agonists available and other treatment options now on the market.