Periodic Limb Movement Disorder FAQs | Relationship between PLMD and RLS

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder FAQ’s

Who gets Periodic Limb Movement Disorder?

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder occurs in both adults and children.

The possibility of having it increases with age, making it very common in the elderly.

It occurs in up to 34% of people over 60 years old.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder can be influenced and caused by a number of factors.

They are commonly found in people who have one of these sleep disorders:

The following medications may cause PLMD or make them worse:

  • Lithium
  • Dopamine-receptor antagonists (e.g., some anti-nausea medications)
  • Some antidepressants

High rates of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder have been found in some people with:

  • Multiple system atrophy (a rare neurological disorder)
  • Nocturnal sleep related eating disorder (NSRED)
  • Spinal cord injury

How do I know if I have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder?

Usually, you are unaware of the movements. This can make it very hard for you to know if you have periodic limb movements. Someone who sleeps in the same bed with you would be more likely to notice the movements.

If you feel like you are never well-rested, even after a full night sleep or if you often feel tired during the day, or if someone has told that your body makes unusual, repetitive movements while you sleep, then you might have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

It is also important to know if there are any other reasons that is causing your sleep problem such as a mental health disorder, a medical condition, another sleep disorder, substance abuse or medication use.

When to seek medical care?

For most of the persons, the movements do not disturb their sleep in a severe way. They do not need to seek medical help. In other cases, severe movements can significantly disturb your sleep and life. In this case, you have to see a sleep expert.

What is the relationship between PLMD and RLS?

PLMD is often related with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) but it is different. PLMD can involve both the arms and legs while RLS involves only the legs and can occur when awake. Sufferers of RLS can experience symptoms so severe that they wake up all the time or are unable to get to sleep.

Periodic limb movement can wake a person from sleep or go totally unnoticed. Patients with RLS frequently have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder but those with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder do not necessarily have RLS also.

What are the risk factors of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder?

The risk factors of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder include:

  • Family history of the patient
  • If the patient is suffering from diseases such as peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, anemia due to low levels of iron, multiple sclerosis.
  • Caffeine, some antidepressants, theophylline, calcium channel blockers.
  • Stress, hormonal imbalance, diet, pregnancy


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