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David Baxter

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Help for Restless Legs

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Imagine whenever you're not moving, your legs are uncomfortable and throbbing. It's a problem many people just live with. It's called [WIKI]restless legs syndrome[/WIKI]. And now there's a new treatment option making it easy for patients to get relief.

Relaxing to read is a great achievement for Beverly Cato. It may seem simple, but she hasn't been able to do it for years. "I thought it was normal," she says. "I just thought it was me -- a constant need to move. It's uncontrollable."

Cato suffers from restless legs syndrome. She had to constantly move her legs, which was a real problem at night. Sleep was next to impossible. "There's no relief, your legs are just constantly tense and unless you move, you get a bit relief," she says.

"A lot of people feel like they are going crazy," Steven Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at Suncoast Medical Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla., tells Ivanhoe. Yet restless legs syndrome affects up to 10 percent of the population.

Dr. Cohen says the key thing is RLS not present when people are up and walking. It's only when they are sitting or lying down. Dr. Cohen says, while neurologists don't know what causes it, researchers do know the same dopamine medications used to treat Parkinson's disease can help patients -- another mystery!

"Why the extra dopamine helps in restless legs syndrome we don't know," he says Dr. Cohen.

Oral medications were available in the past, but now new research shows a patch with the drug rotigotine is an even better choice.

"Not everyone has gotten 100 percent relief, but everyone that I've seen has gotten pretty good relief," Dr. Cohen says. "The major benefit is you put it on and forget it."

There's one unusual side effect that can happen and that is the need to gamble. Dr. Cohen says it is rare, but is something he does caution patients about. Another benefit with the patch is fewer side effects than oral drugs. The patch is approved in Europe and in the process of FDA approval in the United States.

It's working for Cato. Every day when she puts on her make up, she also puts on her patch so she can live life without restless legs.

If you would like more information, please see the Suncoast Medical Clinic website.
 

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