S You Can Take To Reduce Fatigue
If you are feeling fatigued and exhausted all the time, what can you do about it?
First and most importantly, speak to your doctor about how much the fatigue disturbs you. Does it undermine your daily activities? Does it make it more difficult to attend clinic visits or rehabilitation appointments? Does it feed into your emotional life? Does it undermine your coping ability? Once you speak to your doctor about your fatigue, your doctor might also recommend the following steps:
- Engage in regular physical exercise, including the use of weights to increase muscle strength. Studies show that physical exercise combats both physical and mental fatigue.
- Consider taking anti-depressant medication. Although fatigue is not caused by depression, depression can worsen fatigue . Treating depression if it is present might allow you to overcome fatigue with exercise or some other treatment.
- Consider trying stimulants like Ritalin , normally prescribed for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder or Provigil , prescribed for sleep apnea, as an adjunct for depression and as a palliative treatment in end of life care. Some doctors have reported that these drugs may help certain Parkinson’s patients.
Trouble Moving Or Walking
Do you feel stiff in your body, arms or legs? Have others noticed that your arms dont swing like they used to when you walk? Sometimes stiffness goes away as you move. If it does not, it can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. An early sign might be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips. People sometimes say their feet seem stuck to the floor.
What is normal?If you have injured your arm or shoulder, you may not be able to use it as well until it is healed, or another illness like arthritis might cause the same symptom.
What Are The Different Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Each person with Parkinsons disease experiences symptoms in in their own unique way. Not everyone experiences all symptoms of Parkinsons disease. You may not experience symptoms in the same order as others. Some people may have mild symptoms others may have intense symptoms. How quickly symptoms worsen also varies from individual to individual and is difficult to impossible to predict at the outset.
In general, the disease progresses from early stage to mid-stage to mid-late-stage to advanced stage. This is what typically occurs during each of these stages:
Early symptoms of Parkinsons disease are usually mild and typically occur slowly and do not interfere with daily activities. Sometimes early symptoms are not easy to detect or you may think early symptoms are simply normal signs of aging. You may have fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness. You may feel a slight tremor or have difficulty standing.
Often, a family member or friend notices some of the subtle signs before you do. They may notice things like body stiffness or lack of normal movement slow or small handwriting, lack of expression in your face, or difficulty getting out of a chair.
Standing and walking are becoming more difficult and may require assistance with a walker. You may need full time help to continue to live at home.
Pain In Parkinsons Disease: A Spotlight On Women
This 2-page interview with neurologist, Dr. Jori E. Fleisher, discusses pain in Parkinsons disease with some interesting statistics about women and pain. Dr. Fleisher outlines the 4 primary types of pain in PD, how depression interferes with pain management, the role of exercise and medications in pain management as well as alternative therapies.
Opening The Medicine Box In The Mind: The Psychology Of Pain
In this 50-minute lecture, Beth Darnall, PhD explains how our experience of pain goes beyond the physical sensation of pain. It has emotional and psychological components that affect our ability to treat pain. She cites research to demonstrate that and shares 13 specific tips to reduce the experience of pain and increase treatment effectiveness. Audience questions follow the lecture.
Stiffness And Slow Movement
Parkinsons disease mainly affects adults older than 60. You may feel stiff and a little slow to get going in the morning at this stage of your life. This is a completely normal development in many healthy people. The difference with PD is that the stiffness and slowness it causes dont go away as you get up and start your day.
Stiffness of the limbs and slow movement appear early on with PD. These symptoms are caused by the impairment of the neurons that control movement. A person with PD will notice jerkier motions and move in a more uncoordinated pattern than before. Eventually, a person may develop the characteristic shuffling gait.
What Medications Are Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease
Medications are the main treatment method for patients with Parkinsons disease. Your doctor will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan best suited for you based on the severity of your disease at the time of diagnosis, side effects of the drug class and success or failure of symptom control of the medications you try.
Medications combat Parkinsons disease by:
- Helping nerve cells in the brain make dopamine.
- Mimicking the effects of dopamine in the brain.
- Blocking an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain.
- Reducing some specific symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
Levodopa: Levodopa is a main treatment for the slowness of movement, tremor, and stiffness symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine, which replenishes the low amount found in the brain of persons with Parkinsons disease. Levodopa is usually taken with carbidopa to allow more levodopa to reach the brain and to prevent or reduce the nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure and other side effects of levodopa. Sinemet® is available in an immediate release formula and a long-acting, controlled release formula. Rytary® is a newer version of levodopa/carbidopa that is a longer-acting capsule. The newest addition is Inbrija®, which is inhaled levodopa. It is used by people already taking regular carbidopa/levodopa for when they have off episodes .
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Leg Pain And Parkinson’s
Interestingly enough, one of my early symptoms of the disease was deep searing pain in my left leg, the type of pain my grandma had complained about many times. Initially this type of pain was worst in the morning as well as at night, making me think is was some sort of fasciitis. However not only did typical anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants not alleviate my pain but pain worsened over time to a constant burning pain that felt as if someone was tearing the muscle and pouring hot oil on it. The pain was so excruciating it was permeating into all aspects of my life. I was constantly in need of deep tissue massage asking my husband to massage my legs just as my grandmother had asked of us time and time again. This helped only temporarily.
Which brings me to the four types of leg pain in PD.
What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that progresses slowly. Some people will first notice a sense of weakness, difficulty walking, and stiff muscles. Others may notice a tremor of the head or hands. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder and the symptoms gradually worsen. The general symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Slowness of voluntary movements, especially in the initiation of such movements as walking or rolling over in bed
- Decreased facial expression, monotonous speech, and decreased eye blinking
- A shuffling gait with poor arm swing and stooped posture
- Unsteady balance difficulty rising from a sitting position
- Continuous “pill-rolling” motion of the thumb and forefinger
- Abnormal tone or stiffness in the trunk and extremities
- Swallowing problems in later stages
- Lightheadedness or fainting when standing
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Fourth Type Of Leg Pain Is Radicular Pain
In this case, the pain is caused by compression of nerves in lumbar area which results in weakness, numbness and tingling, and loss of reflexes from buttocks to foot in a distribution of a nerve. It can be acute or chronic, and can be worse with standing and sitting, or better with laying down. Of note: in my experience many patients including myself have these symptoms not because of physically herniated disc but rather by the stretching of a nerve in the canal as it exists due to severe musculoskeletal rigidity and abnormal posturing.
Could Noh Be The Cause
Symptoms of nOH, including dizziness, lightheadedness, muscle weakness, and feeling faint after standing, can occur in a person who is at any stage of Parkinsons disease. People often think these symptoms are part of their Parkinsons disease and are something they must learn to live with, but these symptoms may be a sign of nOHa separate condition that can also be managed.
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Parkinsons Disease Treatment And Its Future
Parkinsons disease has no cure. However, millions of dollars are going into research every year to help better understand the disease, from how its defined to how its treated. The ultimate end goal is developing a cure for Parkinsons, but in the meantime, doctors and researchers have developed treatment plans based on what they presume is causing the disease in the first placemost often the lack of certain brain chemicals and cells like dopamine.
The plans vary per patient, and some of these treatment options include:
There isnt any real way to definitively prevent the disease, either. As with prevention for any disease or malady, its suggested that you maintain a healthy lifestyle before and after a diagnosis. Remaining physically engaged through activities like running, yoga, and weight lifting and eating healthy are both ways to provide your body with the best opportunity for a healthy life.
Clinical trials are also viewed as a treatment option because they may give you as good of a chance of relieving symptoms as other already-existent treatments. There are clinical trials happening year-round with various institution and foundations, and your demographic may fit a trial in its beginning pre-clinical stage or an advanced stage.
Talk to your doctor about any available clinical trials that you may qualify for and how to become a part of them. Also stay in contact with your doctor regarding any concerns that you may have with Parkinsons or how to get it treated.
What Are The Primary Motor Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
There are four primary motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease: tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability . Observing two or more of these symptoms is the main way that physicians diagnose Parkinsons.
It is important to know that not all of these symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease to be considered. In fact, younger people may only notice one or two of these motor symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. Not everyone with Parkinsons disease has a tremor, nor is a tremor proof of Parkinsons. If you suspect Parkinsons, see a neurologist or movement disorders specialist.
Walking or Gait Difficulties
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My Parkinson’s Story: Pain
This 10-minute video alternates between an interview with a man and and doctors. The man shares his experience with pain as a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The doctors explain that pain is common in Parkinson’s disease, often due to rigidity or dystonia, which can be exacerbated by “off” periods. Pain caused by Parkinson’s symptoms can be relieved by Parkinson’s medications, exercise, DBS and botox injections. Pain is an invisible symptom that should be mentioned to your neurologist.
The Link Between Rls And Parkinsons: Dopamine Agonists
Although the cause of RLS remains unknown, we know that RLS runs in families in about one-half of the cases, and that some families have an abnormality on chromosome 12. Because RLS is well treated by medications that also treat Parkinsons disease, it is likely that some aspect of brain dopamine function is altered in RLS. However, unlike in Parkinsons disease, in which the deficit in substantia nigra dopamine-producing cells can be proven in many ways, no such abnormality has been shown in RLS. For example, studies show that there is no major deficit on PET or other imaging studies of the brain, as is there is in PD. The spinal fluid is normal in RLS, but shows low dopamine in PD.
Lastly, RLS does not progress to cause other major symptoms such as tremor, gait disorder, or loss of taste or smell, and does not progress to PD. In fact, one of the leading possibilities as the cause of RLS and for which there is good scientific evidence and much research is a form of iron-transport abnormality in the brain. In effect, RLS patients may have low levels of iron in brain nerve cellsjust the opposite of some portions of the brain in PD.
Dr. Poceta is a Consultant in Neurology and Sleep Disorders in the Division of Neurology, Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, and the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center. His current interests include organized medicine and Internet medicine.
Its Time To Redefine Early Stage Parkinsons
The Parkinsons Foundation has shared 10 early signs of PD, including tremor, small handwriting, and loss of smell.
While younger people with early-onset PD may have some of the same signs and symptoms as older individuals, the onset may look different, so their issues may not be attributed to PD.
The American Parkinson Disease Association notes that, Because the majority of people who get Parkinsons disease are over the age of 60, the disease is often overlooked in younger people, leading many to go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for extended periods of time.
My sister was finally referred to a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Neurological Restoration in Ohio, as her symptoms slowly but consistently progressed. After multiple tests, including an MRI, cognitive testing, and a movement and balance analysis, she was diagnosed with PD.
One of Bevs early signs was weakness in her left hand, which she attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome. She regularly conducted echocardiograms and electrocardiograms, which required a lot of constant hand movement. She did not have stiffness or balance issues initially, but she did have a slight head tremor.
As Bevs PD progressed, she noticed that her writing was changing. She now has stage 3 PD and said, Sometimes I cant read my own writing. I feel like it looks like chicken scratch!
Bev also has cognitive issues, mostly related to her short-term memory.
Medication Not Working The Way It Used To
In the early stages, taking medicine works well to get rid of symptoms. But as Parkinsons progresses, your medication works for shorter periods of time, and symptoms return more easily. Your doctor will need to change your prescription.
Dr. Valerie Rundle-Gonzalez, a Texas-based neurologist, says to pay attention to how long your medicine takes to kick in and when it stops working. She says you should feel like symptoms significantly improve or are almost gone while on medication.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated
There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.
Treatment Depends On Properly Identifying The Type
If pain is bilateral always assume it is central pain pain due to PD. In my experience Azilect works great for this type of pain. Other medications which can be employed for this pain as well.
Massage therapy works for all types of leg pain-my favorite therapy but can be costly. Water therapy may also work for all types except central pain. Physical therapy can alleviate dystonia pain, as well as musculoskeletal and radicular pain.
If pain is due to dystonia related to levodopa intake, find out when it occurs—end of dose or at peak dose. Typically adjusting medication doses will resolve problem. However, if dystonia is an initial symptom of PD, initiating treatment with levodopa will resolve. If medication adjustment does not work well for levodopa induced dystonia, another treatment option is DBS . Pain due to dystonia independent of cause can also respond well to Botox injections, as well as centrally acting muscle relaxants. To avoid and alleviate pain caused by stiff muscles, a great treatment option is activity in the form of stretching exercises—any number of activities will do such as tai-chi or yoga. For me when I start having radicular pain shooting down my leg it is time to up my levodopa dosage.
If you are having leg pain make sure to discuss it with your physician.
Other Typical Symptoms Of Parkinson’s
Tremor is an uncontrollable movement that affects a part of the body. A Parkinsons tremor typically starts in the hand before spreading to affect the rest of the arm, or down to the foot on the same side of the body.
There is no cure for a tremor, but there are ways to manage the symptom with support from a specialist or Parkinsons nurse.
Slowness of movement also known as bradykinesia may mean that it takes someone with Parkinson’s longer to do things. For example, they might struggle with coordination, walking may become more like a shuffle or walking speed may slow down.
Everyday tasks, such as paying for items at a check-out or walking to a bus stop, might take longer to do.
Parkinsons causes stiff muscles, inflexibility and cramps. This can make certain tasks such as writing, doing up buttons or tying shoe laces, hard to do. Rigidity can stop muscles from stretching and relaxing. It can be particularly noticeable, for example, if you struggle to turn over or get in and out of bed.
Symptoms and the rate at which they develop will vary from person to person. The most important thing to do if youre worried you have Parkinsons is to speak to your GP.