Starting with barely perceptible tremors, as the disease progresses this symptom can become quite severe.
WHAT ARE THE EARLY SYMPTOMS OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological condition that affects the dopamine secreting cells of the nervous system. Nerve cell damage occurs in the brain which in turn impacts the movement, gait, and postures.
Important Facts About Parkinson’s Disease:
5 Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
One of the first changes people notice is in the way they move and perform normal actions. Due to nerve damage in the cells, getting their limbs to move becomes tedious. Some people even notice that their handwriting becomes smaller because they are unable to make bigger strokes with bigger motions of their wrists. Something as simple as getting out of bed or a chair becomes a task.
Starting with barely perceptible tremors, as the disease progresses this symptom can become quite severe. Most people think it is muscle weakness/fatigue when they notice their hands shaking when they reach out for objects or hold heavy objects. In older people, tremors are usually a sign of nerve cell damage. Tremors can be felt even when the limb is in a resting position called resting tremor or pill rolling tremor.
Parkinson’s cause muscle rigidity. It is when the muscles feel inflexible and cramped. This limits movement. In the initial stages of Parkinson’s one might be able to overcome the rigidity, but as the disease progresses muscle rigidity only worsens. Even turning over in bed will be difficult. Facial muscles get affected leading to reduced blinking and then getting worse until the person is unable to make expressions at all leading to expressionless face.
Muscle stiffness and inability to make big movements slow down the person significantly. They will take smaller slower steps while they walk. They will tend to hunch or stoop while walking – another side-effect of muscle rigidity.
Slurred speech and talking softly with reduced voice volume are also key signs of Parkinson’s that begin when the person begins to lose control over his/her muscles in the mouth, throat and chest. Drooling is yet another additional motor symptom.
Other symptoms that are often confused with different conditions are:
Treating Parkinson’s Disease
Upon early diagnosis of the condition the person can take up physical therapy to help with motor skills.
Medication is prescribed to manage symptoms such as tremors and muscle stiffness.
Nerve cell damage in the brain causes reduced production of a chemical called dopamine in the brain and this is instrumental in affecting movement. Hence, medications that either increase dopamine levels in the brain or prevent the body from breaking down the short supply of dopamine, are usually prescribed to those with Parkinson’s.
A rather modern method of treatment involves surgically placing a wire in a part of the brain that is affected by Parkinson’s. A mild electric current is delivered to this region of the brain through the wires to stimulate activity. This is called Deep Brain Stimulation and is often presented as an option in the later stages of Parkinson’s.
As with all diseases, early diagnosis can help manage the disease better. Even when there is no cure, through therapy the individual learns how to cope with the disease, its symptoms and its impact on his/her life. Once the disease has gotten severe, the individual can no longer perform simple day-to-day activities and will definitely need to have constant care and support. Hence it is important for the patient and his/her family to prepare themselves accordingly.
CONSULTANT – NEUROLOGY
MBBS, MD (GENERAL MEDICINE), DM (NEUROLOGY), PH.D