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Periodic Limb Movement

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is a sleep disorder characterized by rhythmic movements of the limbs while you are asleep, typically resulting in fragmented and unrefreshed sleep.

If you often wake up feeling unrefreshed, take our Sleep Risk Assessment to learn more about your risk for sleep disorders. Then, schedule an appointment with your SSM Health provider to discuss your results and learn about the steps you can take for better sleep.

Signs and Symptoms of PLMD

The movements associated with PLMD usually involve the legs, but upper extremity movements may also occur. Movements occur periodically throughout the night and can fluctuate in severity from one night to the next. They tend to cluster in episodes that last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. These movements are very different from the normal spasms that we often experience initially while trying to fall asleep.

The causes of PLMD are unknown. However recent research has shown that people with a variety of medical problems, including Parkinson's disease and narcolepsy, may have frequent periodic limb movements in sleep. PLMD may be induced by certain medications, most notably, antidepressants.

A patient may occasionally have both Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Leg Syndrome.

How PLMD is Treated

If you’ve been diagnosed with PLMD, medications can help minimize your symptoms, including those that minimize movements and those that help you sleep through movements should they occur. If you experience the symptoms of PLMD, schedule an appointment with your SMS Health primary care provider to discuss your concerns. Our team will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of your sleep problem and provide the support and follow-up care you need to finally get a good night’s sleep.

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