What is Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)?

ByJacob Welsh

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) has symptoms similar to Restless Leg Syndrome. RLS causes sufferers to feel the need to move while at rest. PLMD, RLS's ugly step-sister, causes involuntary movements of the limbs when a person is awake or asleep. While RLS causes sufferers to feel the need to move, PLMD causes actual movement.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is often active at night, and those who suffer may not know they have the disorder until it is pointed out by a partner. The movements caused by PLMD are rhythmic, with legs kicking once, twice, even three times per minute. These constant movements can disrupt the sleep cycle, causing you to wake tired and allowing a great night of sleep to escape you for years.

PLMD was first identified in the 1950s, and was called nocturnal myoclonus. Myoclonus is the characteristic muscle contractions, similar to those seen in people having seizures. The name was changed because the movements in PLMD are not related to those contractions typical of seizures.

Like its cousin Restless Leg Syndrome, PLMD can be a primary or secondary disorder. The causes of the primary disorder are unknown, though many doctors believe that sufferers have difficulty regulating the nerves travelling to the arms and legs from the brain. In cases where it is secondary, sufferers could have a larger problem like iron deficiency, diabetes, sleep apnea or narcolepsy. PLMD can be caused by medications, and conversely, as a symptom of drug withdrawal. If you think your PLMD could be triggered by a larger issue, make an appointment with your physician.

If you suffer from PLMD, a memory foam mattress could help you keep symptoms at bay. Memory foam mattresses sink when triggered by body heat, creating a comforting nest around the body. If you are looking to treat your restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder, a memory foam mattress topper is an affordable answer...they start at just $99!


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