Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

periodic limb movement disorder

You may suffer from periodic limb movement disorder if you experience repetitive body jerking or other movements during sleep.

Also referred to as sleep myoclonus or nocturnal myoclonus, the condition's characteristics may include ongoing or intermittent with spasms, twitching, and jerking during the night.

Generally, these uncontrollable movements occur in the legs, but they can happen in other parts of the body, as well.

Sleep myoclonus is different from the better-known restless leg syndrome, though people who have this limb movement problem also may experience restless leg syndrome.

Often the person with the problem is unaware of the issue. As with many sleep disorders, the bed partner or observer notes the unusual activity. The sleeper may twitch or shake in the moments prior to actual sleep.

The movements may be experienced throughout the night and come in clusters that last for a few moments; however, some movements may last hours.

The sleeper may also have symptoms like those of restless leg syndrome, including sensations in the thighs and calves. Additionally, individuals with sleep myoclonus may experience insomnia and daytime sleepiness that result from poor sleep quality.

Sleep myoclonus may also be a warning sign of a serious health problem such as diabetes, anemia, or kidney disease. That's why it is important to see a doctor if you suspect you have the condition. Some studies have indicated a link between limb movement disorder and Parkinson's disease, as well as other similar neurodegenerative disorders.

Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and antipsychotics may worsen this disorder. Treatment generally is not warranted unless restless leg syndrome is also apparent, or daytime fatigue is an issue. Addressing any underlying health concerns may also alleviate symptoms.

A sleep study may assist a physician in efforts to diagnose and treat the limb movement disorder. When treatment is necessary, physicians often use medications that are used to treat Parkinsons disease. Additionally, dietary changes, such as avoidance of caffeine, may be helpful.


Related Information

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Other Sleep Conditions
Restless Legs Syndrome
Sleep Resources


› Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

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Published by Jules Sowder







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