Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Sleeping disorders have a direct link with brain. Most often, these disorders are neurological and can result in other mental and physical problems. Among such sleep disorders Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is one where people experience involuntary limb movement. It was previously known as Nocturnal Myoclonus.

PLMD can severely disrupt a person’s sleep. A PLMD patient may experience frequent episodes of limb movements throughout the sleep. During these episodes, there is rapid movement of arms and legs. However, a person may not change their body position. These episodes can last from a few minutes to as long as an hour. It normally affects both the legs.

Sometimes, PLMD can be taken for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). There is a big difference between the two as RLS limbs movements are voluntary whereas PLMD limbs movements are totally involuntary. The limb movement can cause sleep disturbance to not only the patients but to their sleeping partners as well.

Causes of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

There is no particular explanation for as to what causes this disorder. There are still researches being carried out on PLMD patients. One of the common causes of PLMD is said to be other sleeping disorders such as Narcolepsy and Parkinson’s Disease. Cases also reported that many of the patients were shift workers. Other reasons for this disease were said to be the usage of hypnotics for sleep, snoring and stress. Medical research suggests that PLMD may also be an indication of severe medical issues such as Kidney problems, Iron Deficiency, Sleep Apnea, Anemia or Diabetes. Use of antidepressants especially amitriptyline and sedatives is also a cause of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.

Symptoms of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

The symptoms of PLMD range from mental illness to other physical health issues. Normally, a PLMD patient is unaware of their movement until someone else points it out for them. Other sleep disorders may also be considered as symptoms for PLMD. Some of the major symptoms of PLMD are given below:

  • Muscle Fatigue During Daytime
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Stress and Depression
  • Lack of Energy during daytime
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • The urge of sleep even after a full night’s sleep
  • Mood swings and bad temper

Treatment for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

PLMD treatment generally consists of anti-Parkinson medicines. There still remains an ambiguity whether patients completely heal from the disorder as there is no documented cure for PLMD as yet. Medical experts suggest that narcotics and anticonvulsants can help the patients relieve. In addition to medications, PLMD patients are suggested to take some precautionary measures. Some of them are given below:

  • Caffeine and Alcohol intake should be reduced
  • Antidepressants should be avoided
  • Stress relief is very important as it is a major cause of PLMD
  • Dopaminergic agents and Benzodiazepines can help relieve the symptoms of PLMD

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is a common problem among people. A person experiences involuntary limb movements while sleeping which can cause sleep disruption. It often results due to other sleep disorders and patients are advised to consult medical experts to reduce the symptoms since there is no proper cure for the disease.