Periodic limb movement disorder

Periodic limb movement disorder is repeated muscle twitching of the feet, arms, or legs during sleep. Sometimes the mouth and muscles in the belly also move.

The movements of periodic limb movement disorder last for up to 10 seconds and may repeat after 5 to 90 seconds.

A person who has periodic limb movement disorder may wake up during the movements. This can interfere with sleep and cause sleepiness during the time the person wants to be awake.

If periodic limb movement disorder is causing problems, a doctor may suggest medicines that prevent the movements or help with sleep during the movements.

Periodic limb movement disorder is more common in older adults than in younger people. It is diagnosed through sleep studies done in a sleep lab.

Last Updated: July 9, 2009

Author: Maria Essig

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

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