Parkinson's disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

November 21, 2017

Don’t let movement disorders freeze your life

Movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease which have symptoms of tremors, stiffness, rigidity and problems of walking can limit your activities and deteriorate the quality of life. However, newer treatment options like Deep Brain Stimulation provide a safe and preferred mode of treatment.

Movement disorders are a group of conditions in which the patient has an excess of a particular movement like ‘tremors’ or decrease in normal movement such as seen in patients with Parkinson's disease. In this case, the patients ‘freeze’ while walking and the feet get stuck to the ground. They cannot walk. It also involves conditions in which there are abnormal movements of the hand, neck or the whole body medically known as ‘dystonia’.

Tremors can occur in any age group. Parkinson’s disease is usually seen in people above 50 years of age, but now there is an increased occurrence even in the younger age groups.

Knowing Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neuro degenerative disorder, after Alzheimer's disease. It is a degenerative, progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects the movement of the limbs and facial muscles. It develops gradually and takes years to develop in to a full-fledged illness. It may sometimes start with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. While tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

The brain over time slowly stops producing a neuro transmitter called ‘dopamine’. As a result, patient slowly loses the ability to regulate movement.

Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

  • Tremors: The tremor or shaking, usually begins in the limbs, often the hand or fingers. There may be a back-and-forth rubbing of the thumb and forefinger, known as a pill-rolling tremor. One characteristic of Parkinson's disease is tremor of the hand when it is at rest.
  • Slowed movement: Over time, Parkinson's disease may reduce the ability to move and slow down movement. This may make simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Steps may become shorter when walking or there may be difficulty in getting up from a chair. The feet may stick to the floor while walking, making it difficult to move.
  • Rigid muscles: Muscle stiffness may occur in any parts of the body. The stiff muscles can limit the range of motion and cause pain.
  • Impaired posture and balance: The posture may have become stooped, or there may problems of balance.
  • Loss of automatic movement: There may be decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging arms while walking. Gestures during talking will be impaired.
  • Speech changes: Patients will begin to speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. The speech may be more of a monotone, rather than with the usual inflections.
  • Writing changes: Writing may appear small and slowly becomes illegible.

Parkinson's disease symptoms and signs may vary from person to person. Early signs may be mild and may go unnoticed. Symptoms often begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.

Diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease

There is no standard test to conclusively show if a person has Parkinson’s disease. The disease should be diagnosed by a neurologist with experience and training in assessing and treating Parkinson’s, ideally a movement disorder specialist. He/She may order several tests to rule out other conditions before diagnosing a person with Parkinson’s disease.

Expertise at Columbia Asia Hospitals to treat movement disorders

Columbia Asia’s centre of excellence in Neurosciences provides comprehensive, compassionate and timely treatment to the patients. The centre has capabilities in treating movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, ataxia and spasticity.

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