Ask The Expert
February 10, 2012
Your symptoms sound like it could be ďPeriodic Limb Movement DisorderĒ (PLMD). Itís a disease in which your sleep is disrupted by repeated jerking or cramping of the legs. The movements usually last a few seconds, with bending of the knee, ankle and big toe. And it repeats about every 30 to 40 seconds.
Most people with this are unaware that the movements are happening because they happen in their sleep. But they do have daytime sleepiness. Because it only happens during sleep, I wouldnít expect it to last from sundown until sunrise (unless thatís when youíre sleeping).
PLMD sometimes may come with restless legs syndrome (RLS). In fact, an estimated 80% of people with RLS have PLMD too. In some people, PLMD is triggered by a medical condition, such as kidney disease, diabetes or iron deficiency. Even certain medications, such as Haldol and amitriptyline, have been linked with PLMD. But in many cases there is no related condition or medicine.
Even though PLMD may come with RLS, your symptoms do not sound like RLS. With that condition, people trying to go to sleep feel tingling, pulling or crawling sensations in their legs along with a strong urge to move the legs. Moving the legs relieves the urge. This happens while awake. And while unpleasant, itís not painful. And itís not accompanied by involuntary movement (unless the person also has PLMD).
If you havenít already, discuss your symptoms with your doctor. He or she might suggest a sleep study and consultation with a sleep specialist.
If PLMD is confirmed, treatment options include:
Treatment for PLMD is often effective, but it does not cure the disorder. You will usually need ongoing treatment.