Parkinson’s disease a common neurological movement disorder that causes an individual to experience multiple neurological and motor symptoms due to a deficiency in dopamine.
Dopamine, an important chemical in the brain, is considered a neurotransmitter and helps the nerves communicate with each other. This deficiency can be the result of genetic factors, exposure to certain chemicals in the environment, or idiopathic.
Parkinson’s disease develops more often in men than it does in women, and adults past their sixth decade of life are more likely to be affected.
It is diagnosed with a physical examination, a thorough neurologic examination, MRI scans, fMRI scans, PET scans, DaTscan, and trial medication. Parkinson’s disease does not currently have a cure, but treatment can help alleviate symptoms.
Parkinson’s treatment may involve the use of medication, deep brain stimulation, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
5 Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Learn about the major symptoms of Parkinson’s disease now.
A tremor is an uncontrollable and unintentional movement in a rhythmic motion of one limb or one part of an individual’s body.
Muscle twitches and muscle spasms are not the same symptoms as a tremor. An involuntary contraction of a muscle is a muscle spasm, and the uncontrolled movement of a small region of a muscle is referred to as a muscle twitch.
Two different types of tremors may occur. Resting tremor occurs when an individual is at rest, and an action tremor occurs during targeted movements. The most common category of tremors to occur in Parkinson’s disease patients is referred to as a parkinsonian tremor.
Parkinsonian tremor is one caused by damage to the section of the individual’s brain responsible for the control of movements.
Parkinsonian tremor is considered to be a resting tremor and typically initiates on one side or in one limb of a patient’s body. Eventually, the tremor moves to the other limbs or side of the body as Parkinson’s disease progresses.
2. Muscle Stiffness
Muscle stiffness and rigidity are terms used to describe when an individual has difficulty moving their muscles after rest and has a tight feeling in their muscles. It is commonly accompanied by muscle cramping, muscle pains, and muscle discomfort.
In Parkinson’s disease patients, muscle stiffness can be unilateral or bilateral. Muscle stiffness can also result in a moderately reduced range of motion.
A common characteristic seen in individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease is a decreased arm swing when walking caused by muscle stiffness. Facial masking is also a common occurrence in affected individuals, where the stiffness of the facial muscles produces a mask-like appearance.
A patient with this symptom may also find it challenging to pivot or turn when they are getting out of a sitting position or walking.
Muscle stiffness is one of the three main signs a physician will look for in a patient to make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Between ninety and ninety-nine percent of all Parkinson’s disease patients experience muscle stiffness.
3. Balance Issues
A balance issue is a term used to refer to any problem that causes an individual to feel unsteady, dizzy, lightheaded, or like the room they are in is spinning. Balance problems can occur when individuals are sitting down, standing, or lying down.
An individual’s balance is maintained through the careful coordination of numerous systems in the body working together. The nerves, inner ear balance organs, bones, joints, muscles, blood vessels, bones, heart, and vision must all be working well and in sync to produce adequate balance in an individual.
The organ in the inner ear and all of its components make up an individual’s vestibular system, which is responsible for keeping them balanced.
However, the nerves that send signals from the inner ear to the brain and vice versa may become affected by the degeneration process that occurs as a result of Parkinson’s disease, which is what causes patients to have balance issues.
4. Changes in Speech
Individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease tend to speak in a single tone without much emotion. Patients may speak very quietly, trail off at the end of a sentence, slur their words, or mumble.
An individual who has Parkinson’s disease may have speech with a hoarse or breathy sound to it, and they may stammer or stutter when they speak.
The motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease can cause an individual to send inappropriate non-verbal cues or cause difficulty with their expression of emotions.
The symptoms not involved with motor skills in Parkinson’s disease patients, such as cognitive problems, can cause changes to their speech. An individual affected by Parkinson’s disease may find it challenging to find and form the right words to express what they want to say.
5. Movements Slow Down
The slowness of movement, bradykinesia, is one of the three hallmark symptoms a physician looks for when making a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
An individual who has Parkinson’s disease may experience a decrease in the speed of their automatic movements, such as swinging of the arms when walking and blinking their eyes.
Another issue that occurs in patients as a result of bradykinesia is problems with the initiation of movement, like when the individual is attempting to get up from a seated position.
The slowness of movement may also manifest as an abnormal stillness in the patient’s face or a reduction in their facial expressions. Everyday functions are often impacted by bradykinesia, such as brushing the teeth, cutting up food, pouring a glass of milk, or buttoning a shirt.
The slowness of movement tends to occur unpredictably. One minute an affected individual can move with ease, and the next minute they may require help performing basic everyday tasks.