Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a term used for a type of sleep disorder in which the affected person moves the limbs involuntarily while the patient is sleeping.1 Patient also has other problems or symptoms that are related to this involuntary movement. Periodic limb movement disorder is involuntary and the person is usually not aware of these movements at all. PLMD is the only type of movement disorder that affects a person only during his sleep. The term periodic indicates that the movements are rhythmic and repetitive and take place around every 20 to 40 seconds. PLMD is also classified as a sleep disorder, because these involuntary movements also affect the sleep of the concerned person.
How Do You Stop Periodic Limb Movement Disorder?
Periodic limb movement disorder or PLMD can be stopped or the symptoms may be reduced with the help of certain medications, which are prescribed by your doctor as per your signs and symptoms, the duration of your condition and the type of disorder that you are suffering from.
The treatment is usually not capable of curing the disorder. However, it can relieve the symptoms and alleviate the discomfort. The line of treatment includes-
- The medication used in the treatment of periodic limb movement disorder focuses either on reducing the movements or helping the person sleep through the movements at night.
- Medicines cannot cure PLMD, but they provide relief from symptoms
- Many medicines used in the treatment of periodic limb movement disorder are also the ones that are used in the treatment of Parkinson’s.
- Sometimes, anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines and narcotics may also be used in the treatment of PLMD
- These medicines must be continued by the patients so that they keep getting relief from the symptoms because there is no cure for this condition and symptom-relief is the only way to alleviate the condition
- Tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, sleep deprivation and stress can aggravate the symptoms of periodic limb movement disorder
- It is better to stay away from caffeine, alcohol as well as antidepressants. These substances can worsen the symptoms of periodic limb movement disorder
- Medications like benzodiazepines suppress the contractions of the muscles. These also act as sedatives and help in sleeping through the movements. Some of these like clonazepam has shown a remarkable decrease in the total number of movements in one hour. It is the most widely used medicine from the benzodiazepines group that is used in the treatment of periodic limb movement disorder
- Some other medications like dopaminergic drugs may be used to reduce or eliminate the leg jerks or the arousals. Dopaminergic medicines increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is a very important neurotransmitter that helps in regulating muscular movements. These medicines may be useful in some while not in others
- These medicines reduce or eliminate both- leg jerks and arousals
- These same medicines are used successfully in the treatment of restless legs syndrome
- Anticonvulsant medicines are helpful in some people. These medicines decrease muscle contractions in some people
- GABA agonists are used in some cases. These medicines are responsible for inhibiting the release of certain neurotransmitters that cause muscle contractions. Thus, they help in relaxing the contractions
After starting on any of these medications, you will need to follow up with your doctor, one or more times, as per his recommendations.
Your partner in bed must understand the nature of your condition and he/she must understand that you do not intend to hurt him/her with your movements
It is better to go for regular follow-up visits with your doctor, so that he can track any developments- positive or negative – in your condition
Primary type of periodic limb movement disorder can be permanent. Many people out of those suffering from this type may experience an improvement in their night-time sleep but they may go through one or more relapses in their condition over time
The secondary type of periodic limb movement disorder may get better by treating the underlying medical condition that is responsible for it.
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