Sleep Care

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

What Is PLMD?

PLMD is a movement disorder which occurs during sleep and is characterized by periodic, repetitive foot, ankle, hip or arm jerks that range from mild to violent. These movements usually occur as often as every 5 to 90 seconds in a consistent, regular pattern. Frequent arousals due to limb movements affect the quality of sleep. Although some people are not aware of the movements or sleep arousals, the sleep cycle is continuously being interrupted. PLMD usually presents upon sleep onset and may subside by the early morning, around 4 am. Some individuals who suffer from PLMD may also suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), which is characterized by an uncomfortable creeping, crawling, or tingling sensation in the legs or arms. These sensations usually accompany an urge or need to move the afflicted limb for relief. RLS generally presents in the evenings, prior to

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bedtime.

Who Gets PLMD?

Although PLMD occurs in men and women of all ages, the incidence increases with age. There is evidence that PLMD is hereditary.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of PLMD vary depending upon the severity of movements and occurrence. People who realize movements throughout the night describe limb jerking, poor sleep quality and difficulty falling to sleep or maintaining sleep. Others who don’t notice the movements describe excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Sleep partners of individuals with PLMD reported that they kick throughout the night.

How Can I Find Out if I Have PLMD?

Diagnosis of PLMD includes an evaluation by your physician and a visit to the sleep lab for testing. The sleep study used to test for PLMD is a Sleep Study or Polysomnogram (PSG). The PSG is a procedure that involves staying overnight in the sleep lab while having several different aspects of your sleep recorded and analyzed. An interview with your sleep partner might also be necessary to determine if you frequently jerk or move throughout the night.

What is the Cause and Treatment?

PLMD has no known cause but can be related to the following:

Pregnancy, Kidney failure, Increased caffeine intake.

Treatment includes good sleep-hygiene habits and medications prescribed by a physician to suppress movements and deepen sleep.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

RLS is a movement disorder originating in the central nervous system and is characterized by a creeping, crawling or tingling leg or arm sensation. Often this is accompanied by an overwhelming desire to move the legs. These sensations worsen with inactivity and become more intense during the evening. This disorder makes is difficult for a person to relax due to repeated leg or arm movements needed to relieve the discomfort. This constant need to move causes awakenings, makes resting cumbersome, interferes with sleep and causes fatigue due to sleep deprivation. PLMD during sleep can also follow RLS. A person will periodically (every 5-90 seconds) jerk, twitch or move his/her legs while sleeping. These jerks can range from mild twitches to violent jerks that may or may not cause awakenings.

Who Gets RLS?

RLS occurs in men and women and affects all ages. Although the incidence usually increases with age, it also presents in childhood. There is evidence that RLS is hereditary.

What are the Symptoms?

People afflicted with RLS have described the sensations several different ways. These symptoms usually present during the evening while a person is at rest and get worse as the night progresses. Some of the descriptions include:
Creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling, itching, aching and/or restless sensation in the legs or arms.
An irresistible urge or need to move the legs or arms to relieve the feeling, only to have it return within seconds to minutes.

How Can I Find Out if I Have RLS?

RLS can be diagnosed by a visit to your physician. There are no tests used to diagnose this disorder, but an evaluation with your medical history can be all that is needed to pinpoint the problem.

What is the Cause and Treatment?

There are a few conditions that can cause RLS but some cases have unknown causes. Treatment includes good sleep hygiene and medication that can be prescribed by your physician. Several conditions that can cause RLS include:

Iron deficiency, Spinal-cord lesions, Uremia, Kidney disease, Pregnancy, Certain medications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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