Airline Pilot Forums

Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.

View Full Version : Advice Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

08-14-2007, 07:24 AM
I'm new to the site and I need advice on a reasonably desperate situation.

I have a doctor's appointment Thursday Morning (16 August) because my legs jerk when I'm falling asleep. I'm afraid it might be Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD), which is similar to Restless Legs Disorder. From what I've read, the prescription for this condition means a DQ for my FAA medical. I don't think I can even get a Class 3 if they prescribe it to me.

Here are my options as I see it:

1) Cancel the appointment and hope that no one ever finds out about it and let me wife sleep in the spare bedroom.

2) Go to the appointment and refuse any prescription, hoping bananas and magnesium supplements will work.

3) Go to the appointment, accept everything the doctor says, and if I never fly, I take it like a man.

Option 1 is most attractive to me, although if this issue comes up after I pay for training and then I can't fly, I'm fantastically screwed.

Option 3 is the least attractive because I sincerely doubt my ability to take having my dream snatched away from me with a modicum of grace or equanimity.

PLEASE - All feedback is most appreciated!

08-14-2007, 08:46 AM
First off, if you go to the appointment, then it's in your medial record. However I don't think nightime restless legs in-and-of-itself has any bearing on your ability to fly.

Are you certain the prescription meds will DQ you? You seem to have identified some non-prescription remedies which may help...that sort of thing has worked for me in the past. In many cases lifestyle, diet, stretching and exercise can help with many minor medical issues...prescription meds are often just a crutch for those who are too lazy to live healthy. You might try improving your lifestyle for a while and see what happens...if you are in a pilot training program, there's a fair bit of stress and uncertainty that could lead to anxiety.

You probably want to get some outside medical advice...that won't end up in your medical record. AOPA has a service, and there are several private consulting firms staffed by ex-AME's who specialize in pilot medical isues. Here is one:

08-14-2007, 09:52 AM
Thanks for the 411 rickair. I'll check out that site and continue my research. I appreciate the help.

08-14-2007, 11:26 AM
I guess im not sure why its an issue. does this condition bother you or pose a health problem? If yes , then look for alternative methods to treat before seeing a doc. If it didnt effect my ability to fly I certainly wouldnt go to a doc about it.

08-14-2007, 05:57 PM
I posted your question on another site. An FAA doc often answers medical questions there. Here is his answer to your question.

One needs to be certain they haqve the right diagnosis. Here are some criteria for diagnosis:

Four basic criteria for diagnosing RLS: (1) a desire to move the limbs, often associated with paresthesias or dysesthesias, (2) symptoms that are worse or present only during rest and are partially or temporarily relieved by activity, (3) motor restlessness, and (4) nocturnal worsening of symptoms.

If you think you may have RLS, consult your family doctor. Doctors diagnose RLS by listening to your description of your symptoms and by reviewing your medical history. Your doctor will ask you questions such as:
Do you experience unpleasant or creepy, crawly sensations in your legs, tied to a strong urge to move?
Does movement help relieve the sensations?
Are you more bothered by these sensations when sitting or at night?
Do you often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
Have you been told that you jerk your legs, or your arms, when asleep?
Is anyone else in your family bothered by restless legs?There's no blood or lab test specifically for the diagnosis of RLS. Your answers help your doctor clarify whether you have RLS or whether testing is needed to rule out other conditions that may explain your symptoms. Blood tests or muscle or nerve studies may be necessary to pinpoint a cause.
Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist for additional evaluation. This may require that you stay overnight at a sleep clinic, where doctors can study your sleep habits closely and check for leg twitching (periodic limb movements) during sleep — a possible sign of restless legs syndrome. However, a diagnosis of RLS usually doesn't require a sleep study.


Sometimes, treating an underlying condition such as iron deficiency or peripheral neuropathy greatly relieves symptoms of RLS. Correcting the iron deficiency may involve taking iron supplements. However, take iron supplements only under medical supervision and after your doctor has checked your blood iron level.
If you have restless legs syndrome without any associated condition, treatment focuses on lifestyle changes and medications. Several prescription medications, most of which were developed to treat other diseases, are available to reduce the restlessness in your legs. These include:
Medications for Parkinson's disease. These medications reduce the amount of motion in your legs by affecting the level of the chemical messenger dopamine in your brain. They include pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip) and a combination of carbidopa and levodopa (Sinemet). However, people with RLS are at no greater risk of developing Parkinson's disease than are those without RLS.
Opioids. Narcotic medications can relieve mild to severe symptoms, but they may be addicting if used in too high doses. Some examples include codeine, the combination medicine oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet), and the combination medicine hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin, Duocet).
Muscle relaxants and sleep medications. This class of medications, known as benzodiazepines, helps you sleep better at night. But these medications don't eliminate the leg sensations, and they may cause daytime drowsiness. Commonly used sedatives for RLS include clonazepam (Klonopin), eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon (Rozerem), temazepam (Restoril, Razapam), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien).
Medications for epilepsy. Certain epilepsy medications, such as gabapentin (Neurontin), may work well for some people with RLS.Needless to say, these drugs are disqualifying for flight duty but the FAA may allow one to use Atamet, Parlodel, Sinemet under a Special Issuance medical certificate.

Walter Forred, MD
602-368-5633 (

08-15-2007, 05:22 AM
Thanks for all the help guys. I'm not in the business yet. I'm really just in the planning stages. This seems like a lousy aspect of the whole profession, that you might have to withold information from your doctor to keep your job? Seems like a real dangerous Catch-22.

It really seems like the condition itself is not disqualifying, just the medications. I'm going to mull over everything you guys and the doc told me here, have one last talk with my wife and go to mass. Hopefully the right answer will come by noon today when I'd have to cancel if I'm going to do so.

I'll let you know what happens. Thanks again!

08-17-2007, 05:08 PM
If anyone is still interested in this thread, I did go to the appointment and it was PLMD, but not RLS. I explained my future aviation plans and he was cool about it. They took some blood to see if I can take iron supplements to treat it and gave me some other tips.

Ultimately, the only real problem was that my wife couldn't go to sleep. I think we may get a tempurpedic mattress so I don't have to DQ myself.

Thanks again for the 411.

08-20-2007, 05:26 PM
so you have ....several things that are suspect.....

08-20-2007, 07:08 PM
I have several things in my history that have no bearing on my current health, which is excellent. If I went into an AME's office right now and underwent an exam, I'd pass with flying colors.

Let me get to the point. How much lying can I get away with?

08-21-2007, 08:03 AM
You feel a need to lie on the questions for your FAA medical?

08-21-2007, 08:54 AM
I really don't know, that's why I'm asking all these questions. I'm fully confident that I'm in Class 1 health right now as I sit here. What I'm trying to suss out is how significant past health issues are. That's all.