Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLM)

What are Periodic Limb Movements?

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLM) are occurrences of simple, repetitive, and uncontrollable muscle movements. PLM can occur during the day but is more common during the night and can seriously disrupt sleep which causes daytime fatigue. Movements tend to involve muscle tightening or flexing in the lower legs.

EISC sleep medicine specialist Dr. Scott D. Geisler explains:

What are the symptoms of periodic limb movements?

Normally, those affected by PLM are unaware of the movements. Someone who sleeps in the same bed is more likely to notice symptoms which include:

  • Unusual, repetitive movements, typically in the lower legs
  • Fatigue

How are periodic limb movements diagnosed?

In order to diagnose PLM, your doctor may recommend a polysomnogram (sleep study).

What treatment options are available?

While PLM cannot be cured, it can be managed. In some cases, doctors will prescribe medications that help control the movements. Those with mild cases may benefit from sedatives or pain killers.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Video Transcription

Periodic Limb Movements are occurrences of muscle movements which seriously disrupt sleep. Normally those affected by PLMs are unaware of the movements. The bed partner is more likely to notice the symptoms and to complain about frequent kicking.

Symptoms can include simple repetitive and uncontrollable muscle movements, muscle tightening or flexing in the lower legs and daytime fatigue. To diagnose PLMs a polysomnographic or sleep study may be helpful but is not required. While PLMs cannot be cured they can be managed. Medication can help control the movements and mild cases may benefit from sedatives or painkillers.


Learn more about periodic limb movements (PLM)


Questions? Contact the Eastern Iowa Sleep Center today.