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Restless legs syndrome: a new entity of neuropathic pain? Treatment with prolonged release oxycodone/naloxone combination

Authors Gemignani F, Melpignano A, Milioli G, Riccardi S, Parrino L

Received 13 December 2015

Accepted for publication 14 February 2016

Published 6 April 2016 Volume 2016:6 Pages 23—27


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Peter Hedera

Franco Gemignani,1 Andrea Melpignano,1,2 Giulia Milioli,1,2 Silvia Riccardi,1,2 Liborio Parrino1,2

1Neurology Unit, Department of Neurosciences, University of Parma, Parma, Italy; 2Sleep Disorders Center, Department of Neurosciences, University of Parma, Parma, Italy

Abstract: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of sensorimotor integration characterized by an urge to move the legs when at rest, especially at night or in the evening, which is relieved by movement. Sensory symptoms may be prominent, often exhibiting features consistent with neuropathic pain. Iron deficiency and genetic factors are implicated in RLS causation in most patients. The pathogenetic model of impaired circadian dopaminergic modulation of sensorimotor integration circuitry at the spinal level is fitting with the co-occurrence of movement disorders, sensory symptoms, and sleep disruption in RLS. Accordingly, levodopa and dopamine agonists are effective for RLS symptoms, which compensate for the impaired descending control by diencephalo-spinal dopa(min)ergic pathway. Dopamine agonists are usually indicated as the first-line therapy, but their use in long-term treatment is often complicated by augmentation and impulse control disorder, thus alpha-2-delta ligands also are now considered the first line of treatment. It has been recognized that endogenous opioid system is also involved in the mechanisms generating RLS, possibly through an impaired modulation of pain pathways. Opioids can be considered as an alternative therapy, particularly in patients with augmentation and/or refractory to other treatments. Recently introduced prolonged-release oxycodone–naloxone was efficacious for short-term treatment of patients with severe RLS inadequately controlled with previous treatment. It will be important to assess whether opioids, as well as other drugs, are especially effective in definite RLS subtypes such as the painful phenotype.

Keywords: small fiber neuropathy, allodynia, hyperalgesia

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