Parkinson’s Disease

The goal for treatment is to help control symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease affects the lives of approximately one million people in the United States and over five million in the world. It is rare that younger adults suffer from Parkinson’s disease. It is men and women (primarily men) over the age 50, who are at great risk for developing this disease.

One of the most prevalent movement disorders, Parkinson’s disease is stimulated by an abnormality of the nervous system. The brain’s deficiency of dopamine, a chemical produced in nerve cells, deters communication between the two areas of the brain that control an individual’s motor abilities. The cause for the deterioration of dopamine has yet to be identified.

The degenerative condition generates a strain in muscle movement, impairs coordination and creates a shakiness of limbs. As the disease progresses an individual may experience difficulty walking, talking and completing other everyday tasks such as opening a container, pressing a button or turning a knob.

Causes of Parkinson’s disease

Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown, it is presumed that there are contributing factors. It has been suggested that alterations of inherited genes may attribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Also, the continual exposure to certain environmental features and toxins such as herbicides and pesticides may increase an individual’s risk by hindering the production of dopamine cells. In many incidences among those diagnosed with Parkinson, physicians have discovered abnormal spots in brain cells called “Lewy bodies.” The significance of the cell irregularity is currently being researched but the presence of A-synuclein, a natural protein, is deemed important.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

The symptoms for Parkinson’s disease initially occur on one side of the body with involuntary movements. As the symptoms vary from each individual, earlier signs are not as apparent and may go unnoticed until the disease progresses. Symptoms begin to occur gradually with progression possibly moving to both sides of the body. There are several most commonly identified signs for the development of Parkinson’s disease including the following:

  • Trembling of the limbs; may worsen as the individual becomes stressed or excited
  • Sluggish Movements
  • Stiffness of Muscles; also can cause pain during range of motion
  • Stooped Posture
  • Impaired Coordination and Balance
  • Speech Impediments
  • Change in Writing; typically generated by shaky hand and fingers

There are also various mild symptoms an individual may experience but not recognize until they become more prominent. This generally occurs with automatic bodily functions such as difficulty blinking, smiling or swallowing and may stimulate constipation and excessive saliva.

Treatments for Parkinson’s disease

There is no defined cure for Parkinson’s disease but the goal for treatment is to help control the symptoms. The most recommended treatment for Parkinson’s disease is medications. There are several medicines that can be prescribed to increase the production of dopamine nerve cells in the brain, reducing the occurrence of symptoms.

Modifications to an individual’s lifestyle may also be suggested such as regular exercise, dietary adjustments and sufficient rest. Incorporating physical therapy concentrating on stretch and balance, as well as speech therapy and occupational therapy, into your weekly routine is also encouraged to help ease symptoms. For more severe cases, a surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation may be advised.

For more information, contact Longstreet Clinic Neurology at 770-771-6916.

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