Parkinson’s disease is said to be a degenerative disease of the central nervous system, which mainly affects the motor system in the body. A degenerative disease is one which takes place gradually over time, where cells which produce a neurotransmitter known as dopamine within our brain, slowly get destroyed. The cause of this destruction remains unclear, but it is thought to have a genetic predisposition. This lack of dopamine in our body leads to motor symptoms, meaning that this disease manifests as difficulty and abnormalities related to movement. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease start off insidiously and then gradually worsen with time. As result of its manifestations which include gradual onset stiffness of the muscles, weakness of the muscles, abnormality in the gait and so on, this disease is classified as a movement disorder.
Since this disease progresses gradually, most patients will experience some common symptoms early in the disease, which include:
- They will gradual develop a slowness which takes over all of their voluntary movements including something as simple as rolling over in bed or something as natural as walking.
- There can be other movements which are involved in the early stages, such as blinking movements, the ability to have different facial expressions, as well as your ability to articulate well during speech.
- This disease also affects you gait and posture, which means the way your body is positioned when you stand and how you move when you walk, it mainly affects the manner in which you swing your arms while walking.
- You may experience some unsteadiness while walking, and there may be patients who experience difficulty in rising from a seated position, this occurs because they develop weakness in their proximal muscles, like the thighs.
- As the disease progresses all of these symptoms will worsen and they may develop other serious symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing as well episodes of lightheadedness and fainting.
This disease is considered a serious neurological condition, because early on in the disease most of the symptoms are mild, and they do not affect people a lot. It is when the disease had progressed a lot and the symptoms have started to affect how these individuals function in their day to day life, that they think about consulting a doctor regarding Parkinson’s treatment. By then it has begun to have an impact on their daily lifestyles as well as their occupational and social lives.
Parkinson’s disease usually manifests as symptoms which can be grouped together as a result of how they are causes. And if you understand the reasons behind why patients develop these symptoms, you may be able to detect it in the early stages and seek help form a specialist regarding Parkinson’s treatment. These four categories include:
- Muscle rigidity: There are times when our body requires our muscles to be stiff and then there are times when our body requires our muscles to relax. The inability of the muscles in our body to relax and always remain contracted, leads to the development of stiffness within the muscles, where the muscles tend to stay in one position. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease begins with this kind of stiffness which is usually experiences in the limbs, and gives the individual a feeling of inability to move their limbs freely. This can even lead to muscle pain on certain occasions.
- Tremors: These are what most people tend to call the shivering movements. Shivering/tremors can be gross or fine tremors. In Parkinson’s disease people develop fine tremors, such as rubbing of the thumb against the forefinger. With time as the disease progresses, the tremors tend to worsen and become more visible.
- Slowing of movements: There is loss of spontaneous activity and the ability to freely move as and when you like. This results because of the inability of the brain to transmit the necessary messages to the different parts of our body in the same speed on all occasions. Therefore at certain times the patient will be alright, and the next minute the movements have been restricted. This can be quite disabling for most people.
- Altered gait: This again results because of the stiffness and the slowness of movements, where the patient has difficulty swinging their arms and legs freely. Therefore sharp and sudden movements may not be possible in these patients.