PLMD | Periodic Limb Movement Disorder | PLMD Causes

PLMD Causes

PLMD causes are unclear. Periodic limb movement disorder can be primary or secondary.

Secondary PLMD is caused by an underlying medical problem.

Primary PLMD, on the other hand, has no known cause. It has been linked to abnormalities in regulation of nerves traveling from the brain to the limbs, but the exact nature of these abnormalities is not known.  

Secondary Periodic limb movement disorder has many different causes, including the following. Many of these are also secondary PLMD causes of restless legs syndrome.

  • Iron deficiency
  • Spinal cord tumor
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Sleep apnea syndrome - Breathing difficulties that disrupt sleep, causing daytime sleepiness and a number of other problems
  • Narcolepsy: A sleep disorder involving excessive sleepiness and overpowering urge to sleep during waking hours
  • Anemia- Low level of hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen in the blood
  • Withdrawal from sedative medications such as barbiturates or benzodiazepines (such as Valium).
  • Uremia - Build-up of waste products in the blood because of poor kidney function

PLMD is often seen in patients with kidney disease, metabolic disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, or circulatory problems.


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