Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Similar to, but different than, restless legs syndrome is periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), a condition in which the patient repeatedly moves his or her extremities during sleep and which in turn impairs the sleep cycle. PLMD most frequently occurs during the lighter periods of sleep and each movement pattern can take up to a minute and a half. The body parts being moved during PLMD can vary from patient to patient and typically include a person’s hips, knees, ankles and feet, but can also involve the upper body as well and can change every night. While the cause of PLMD has not been determined, antidepressants, antihistamines and other medications have been identified as exacerbators. Notably, this condition may be due to a sleep-related or non-sleep-related issue.

Although more common as people age, PLMD can occur at any time among both men and women. Once diagnosed, patients are often instructed to avoid caffeine and antidepressants and are prescribed dopamine agonist, anticonvulsants, and other medications in order to lessen symptoms.