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Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)


What is PLMD?

PLMD is a condition where one or both legs or arms may undergo a variety of jerky movements -- from twitching to kicking or hitting the partner in bed.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is the most common PLMD in which there may be a restless feeling in the legs, with muscle twitching, pins-and-needles, pulling, ants-crawling-under-the-skin sensation, or cramps and muscle aches. This occurs when the patient is lying in bed or sleeping and makes it impossible for the patient, or his bed partner, to get a good night's sleep.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can occur during rest or sleep and may affect the arms or legs or both. You may feel the need for rubbing or stretching or walking to relieve the discomfort. The following are some of the key symptoms:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Burning sensation
  • Pins-and-needle feeling under the skin
  • Ants crawling under the skin
  • Depression
  • Insomnia -- difficulty sleeping
  • Day time sleepiness or fatigue


What Causes PLMD?

The cause of PLMD is unknown at this time. Some doctors believe that the Cerebellum and the thalamus of the brain may be involved. 60% of the people with RLS may have a positive family history of this disease.


How does this affect a person?

Those who are diagnosed with PLMD are more likely to be affected with the following diseases:

  1. Peripheral Neuropathy
  2. Parkinson's
  3. Multiple Sclerosis
  4. Kidney (renal) failure
  5. Pinched nerves in the back, i.e., Sciatica
  6. Anemia due to low levels of iron
  7. Electrolyte deficiencies, such as Potassium, Calcium, or Magnesium

PLMD symptoms are known to increase with age. In most cases, the first symptoms are likely to occur beginning in their 20s.

Stress, change in diet, and hormonal imbalances are likely to occur as a result of PLMD. During pregnancy symptoms may increased.


How is it treated?

PLMD can be treated by avoid caffeine, supplementing electrolytes if low, and correcting anemia.

In some instances it is helpful to change medications. Be aware that some medications may alter the levels of Potassium and other Electrolytes.

Several self-help remedies include stretching before exercising and taking the time to sleep at a minimum of 8 hours per day.

Medications such as sedatives (e.g., Benzodiazepines), opiates (e.g., Codeine, Dopamine), and brain chemical enhancers (e.g., Sinemet, etc.) can also help in severe cases.

Used with permission from Nationwide Respiratory a division of VGM, Inc.

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Sleep Centers of Arkansas - Searcy L.L.C.
306 East Market Ave.
Searcy, AR 72143
Phone: (501) 268-6700 or (877) 441-9691

Fax: (501) 251-1977

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