If you have an uncomfortable feeling in your legs that is only relieved by moving them around, your doctor may want to evaluate you for restless leg syndrome. If you are covered under Medicare, here is what you should know about restless leg syndrome treatment and how it is handled by Medicare.

What is restless leg syndrome?

The National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) defines restless leg syndrome as a disorder that causes “creeping, crawling, pulling, itching, tingling, burning, or electric shock” feelings in the legs, although the symptoms may occasionally show up in the arms, as well. Restless leg syndrome symptoms are most pronounced when you’re inactive, such as at night when you are resting and ready for bed.

The NHLBI states there are two types of restless leg syndrome, one that begins early in life and tends to run in families, and another type that usually begins after age 45 and doesn’t seem to run in families.

NHLBI research has shown that restless leg syndrome may be triggered by other diseases and conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney failure, and diabetes.

What is the typical restless leg syndrome treatment?

According to the NHLBI, there is no cure for restless leg syndrome, but it may be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. If your restless leg syndrome is triggered by another condition, it may resolve once the triggering condition resolves.

Lifestyle changes used in restless leg syndrome treatment may include:

  • Sleeping in a quiet, dark, cool room.
  • Going to bed later at night and waking up later in the morning.
  • Avoiding distractions such as TV, phone, or computer screen at bedtime.

Your doctor may also suggest you cut down on alcohol and tobacco, take a hot or cold bath, or use heat, cold, or massage on the affected legs to help manage your restless leg syndrome symptoms, according to the NHLBI.

If lifestyle changes don’t relieve your restless leg syndrome symptoms, your health care provider may order prescription medications to treat your condition. Currently, there is no single medicine for restless leg syndrome treatment that works on everyone, so your doctor may have to try several different prescription drugs before you find one that works for you.

Does Medicare cover restless leg syndrome treatment?

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) may cover medically necessary doctor visits and tests to diagnose and treat restless leg syndrome, although your Part A and Part B deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance amounts apply. Care you receive on an outpatient basis is covered under Medicare Part B, while inpatient care is covered under Medicare Part A.

Most prescription medications are not covered under Original Medicare. If you have Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs, your plan generally covers medications ordered by your doctor for restless leg syndrome treatment. You may have to meet a deductible and pay a copayment or coinsurance amount, depending on your plan.

You can get Medicare Part D coverage through a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage.

Need more information about Medicare and restless leg syndrome?

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