Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement of the muscles. Early symptoms often go unnoticed such as a minor tremor in one hand. Involuntary muscle movements gradually increase, but Parkinson’s can also cause stiffness and slowing of movements.
In the early stages, symptoms often begin in the face by showing little or no expression, with speech that is slurred and soft. Another early sign is that the arms may not swing while walking. All of these signs tend to worsen as the condition progresses.
There are many other signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s such as:
- Tremors are the most common symptom, often beginning in the limbs with a back-and-forth rubbing of the thumb and forefinger. Tremors in the hand tend to occur when it is relaxed.
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia) is a reduced ability or slowing of movements. Simple tasks become difficult and time-consuming, such as getting in and out of chairs, shortened steps while walking, and dragging the feet while walking. Movements slowly become more and more difficult.
- Rigid muscles or stiffness may occur anywhere in the body, limiting range of motion and causing pain.
- Impaired posture and balance, with the posture of Parkinson’s sufferers becoming increasingly more stooped over time. A cane may be needed to walk.
- Loss of automatic movement is a sign in later stages with decreased ability to perform basic movements such as blinking, smiling, or swinging the arms while walking.
- Speech changes are also common, with the speech becoming soft, quick, slurred, or hesitation before speaking. Speech becomes more monotone without normal inflection.
- Writing changes become noticeable as handwriting becomes more difficult, with noticeable changes in handwriting style which may become smaller or hard to read. (These changes are also called micrographia.)
The cause of Parkinson’s is unknown at this time, but at Elite Neuroscience Center Dr. Deborah Cantrell is working to find ways ease the pain and problems it causes. Please contact us if you or a loved one begins to experience any of these symptoms, and our specialists will help find the best treatment possible.