Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep
Tue, 8/10/2010 5:32 PM
Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, most typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds.
The exact cause of PLMS is unknown. PLMS are not considered medically serious. PLMS can be a contributing factor in chronic insomnia and/or daytime fatigue because they may cause awakenings during the night.
Symptoms of PLMS
The most common symptom of PLMS include fragmented sleep, daytime sleepiness, and frequent arousals during sleep. Often, people who have PLMS also have Restless Leg Syndrome. RLS is a disorder that is characterized by the irresistible urge to move the body in an effort to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations, most often in the legs. These sensations or feelings are typically described as creeping, crawling, itching, burning, or tingling feelings. However, research also shows that many individuals have PLMS without experiencing any symptoms. As with several sleep disorders, it’s often the spouse or bed partner that refers the PLMD patient to receive treatment.
A number of medications have been shown to be effective in treating PLMS, but treatment is only necessary when PLMS are accompanied by restless legs (RLS), insomnia or daytime fatigue.
If you feel that you have PLMS or Restless Leg Syndrome, inform your primary care physician or make an appointment for an evaluation with a Sleep Specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center.
Jim Donaldson is the supervisor at the Methodist Healthcare Sleep Disorders Center. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Please call the Sleep Disorders Center for more information at 901.683.0044.
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