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Disease Profile

Painful legs and moving toes syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Painless legs-moving toes (variant); PLMT


Painful legs and moving toes (PLMT) syndrome is an adult-onset, rare disorder characterized by pain in the feet or legs and twisting movements of one or more toes. The patients usually seek medical attention because of the pain. The syndrome may be unilateral or bilateral. Identical toe movements may occur without pain, referred to as: "painless legs-moving toes," and a similar condition affects the upper limbs: "painful arms-moving fingers." The cause of PLMT and its variants is not known but most reports suggest an association with a peripheral lesion, usually at the level of the root or nerve, though in many cases no cause is found. Treatment is often unsatisfactory and may include medication for neuropathic pain (gabapentin), spinal blocks, spinal cord stimulation, and local injection of botulinum toxin. It is a debilitating clinical syndrome, not because of the movements but rather because of the pain.[1][2]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    In-Depth Information

    • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Painful legs and moving toes syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


      1. Hassan A, Mateen FJ, Coon EA, & Ahlskog JE. Painful legs and moving toes syndrome: a 76-patient case series.. Arch Neurol. August, 2012; 69(8)::1032-8.. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22490324. Accessed 7/25/2015.
      2. Reich SG. Painful legs and moving toes. Handb Clin Neurol. 2011; 100:375-83. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21496596. Accessed 7/25/2015.