Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system/brain disorder that affects movement. Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or die. These neurons normally produce a brain chemical known as dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they produce less dopamine, which causes movement problems with Parkinson’s.

Symptoms

Tremor

A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth, known as a pill-rolling tremor. Your hand may tremble when it’s at rest.

Slowed Movement

(bradykinesia). Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk. It may be difficult to get out of a chair. You may drag your feet as you try to walk.

Rigid Muscles

Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. Stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.

Impaired Posture and Balance

Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems.

Loss of Automatic Movements

You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.

Speech Changes

You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual inflections.

Writing Changes

It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.

People with Parkinson’s also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many automatic functions of the body.

Parkinson’s disease is often accompanied by additional symptoms, which may be treatable:

  • Thinking difficulties. You may experience cognitive problems (dementia) and thinking difficulties. These usually occur in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Depression and emotional changes.
  • Swallowing problems. You may develop difficulties with swallowing as your condition progresses.
  • Chewing and eating problems. Late-stage Parkinson’s disease affects the muscles in your mouth, making chewing difficult. This can lead to choking and poor nutrition.
  • Sleep problems and sleep disorders.
  • Bladder problems.
  • Constipation.
  • Blood pressure changes.
  • Smell dysfunction.
  • Fatigue.
  • Pain.
  • Sexual dysfunction.