Known as Restless Legs Syndrome, or RLS, this disruptive condition occurs in roughly 7% of the population worldwide. While patients older than age 65 are most commonly diagnosed, there are children who experience RLS as well. With approximately 10% of children experiencing a sleep disorder globally, the diagnosis of RLS in the adolescent population is gaining in numbers. Restless Legs Syndrome rears its ugly head mainly at night, affecting patients when they should be sleeping. Unfortunately this debilitating disorder causes sensations during the night that elicit an uncomfortable and irresistible urge for patients to move their legs. Inactive times, such as during a movie or a long car ride can also bring upon these relentless sensations, which can often be relieved only by walking or running around to stretch and exercise the legs. RLS not only disturbs sleep, it also becomes an embarrassing burden for patients to bear.
Ropinirole, also known as Requip, which is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline, is an effectual and safe treatment for patients experiencing RLS. Ropinirole offers the same effects as the chemical dopamine, which is also associated with patients who have low levels of dopamine due to Parkinson’s disease. However, while Ropinirole is used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, there is no evidence that shows patients with RLS are prone to developing Parkinson’s disease at a later date. In fact, genetic researchers at Emory University discovered in 2007 a gene variant which doubled a patient’s risk of developing RLS. Additionally, patients with family members who suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome may be more likely to develop RLS, as it has been documented in many studies to run in families.
Ropinirole is a non-ergoline dopamine agonist approved by the FDA to treat both moderate-to-severe Restless Legs Syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. The transdermal drug delivery of Ropinirole, as well as its safety and tolerability profile makes this agent an efficacious choice for patients with RLS. Adverse effects from Ropinirole are uncommon, with patient complaints being minor. Commonly reported side effects include nausea, diarrhea, gas, dizziness and headache.
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