Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Last Updated: April 22, 2019

Definition - What does Periodic Limb Movement Disorder mean?

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a sleep disorder characterized by brief involuntary muscle spasms such as jerking or twitching movements affecting the upper and/or lower extremities on a continual basis during the night. Patients are diagnosed with PLMD when it disrupts normal biorhythms, in turn, resulting in daytime drowsiness that can interfere with regular activities at home and/or work.

WorkplaceTesting explains Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

The etiological implications of periodic limb movement disorder remain unknown, but evidence suggests it is often linked to nervous system abnormalities. However, many experts indicate that PLMD can be a telltale factor of a more serious underlying medical condition such as anemia, diabetes, and kidney disease. Periodic limb movements can be categorized into two distinct subclasses: periodic limb movements while you sleep (PLMS) and periodic limb movements while you are awake (PLMW).

Depending on the severity of PLMD, patients and their partners can experience behavioral and/or cognitive disruptions including concentration difficulties, memory lapses, depression, and chronic fatigue. Sleep disorders, if left untreated, carry major ramifications for employees in the workplace with increased absenteeism, productivity decline, and financial constraints on employers. For instance, it is believed that PLMD is a primary culprit for patients who suffer from insomnia, and is also an accompanying symptom of restless legs syndrome. Consequently, many individuals experience persistent and sporadic movements that can be treated with prescribed medications.

Although most sleep disorders remain undiagnosed, seeking proper treatment for PLMD can help prevent chronic sleep disturbances while helping people get sufficient sleep.

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