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Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD): How We Treat

How are RLS and PLMD treated?

The Breathing Institute at Children's Hospital Colorado

Patients with RLS or PLMD are treated with a combination of learning new behavioral skills, vitamin supplements and other medication.

  • Good sleep habits: It is important for children and adolescents to get enough sleep and have a regular sleep schedule. Sleep psychologists can help families establish better sleep routines.
  • Iron supplementation: If a child’s ferritin level is below 50 mcg/L, your child’s doctor will recommend additional iron intake through foods high in iron or medication. Multivitamins have enough iron to maintain proper iron stores, but do not have sufficient iron to replace low iron stores for children with RLS or PLMD.
  • Medications: RLS and PLMD have been treated with clonidine (Catapres), clonazepam (Klonopin), gabapentin (Neurontin) and zolpidem (Ambien). Dopaminergics are the medications of choice for RLS in adults, but are not used as frequently in children.
  • Monitoring and safety: Any medication treatment for RLS or PLMD requires close monitoring for safety and efficacy. As part of routine care, remember to maintain the safe storage of all medications (including Tylenol) in childproof containers.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): There is evidence that suggests that treating RLS or PLMD can reduce or eliminate symptoms of ADHD in some children or adolescents. Stimulant medications used for ADHD do not worsen RLS or PLMD.

Why choose Children’s Hospital Colorado for your child’s RLS and PLMD?

At Children’s Colorado, our Pediatric Sleep Clinic team is made up of experts in treating children with restless leg syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). Our clinicians have years of experience diagnosing and treating these movement disorders. Our sleep psychologist can help families learn good sleep habits to support any medical treatments recommended by our sleep doctors.

The Sleep Team often coordinates care with other specialists and primary care physicians involved in each family’s treatment. Most importantly, our caring staff members are willing to listen to families and “go the extra mile” to improve sleep and optimize development.