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.
Estimated Healthcare Costs Related To Pd In The Us
The combined direct and indirect cost of Parkinsons, including treatment, social security payments and lost income, is estimated to be nearly $52 billion per year in the United States alone.
Medications alone cost an average of $2,500 a year and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 per person.
Looking For Signs Of Parkinsons
Your specialist will examine you to look for common signs of Parkinsons. You may be asked to:
- write or draw to see if your writing is small or gradually fades
- walk to see whether theres a reduction in the natural swing of your arm or in your stride length and speed
- speak to see if your voice is soft or lacks volume
The specialist will also look at and ask you about your:
- face to see if there is a masked look or if you have difficulty with facial expressions
- limbs to see if you have a tremor, any stiffness or slowness of movement
As well as examining you for any of the typical signs of Parkinsons, the specialist will also look for signs that may suggest a different diagnosis.
It may be helpful to take someone with you for support when seeing a specialist. Taking a list of questions you want to ask can also be useful so you dont forget to mention something you want to know about. If a healthcare professional says something you dont understand, dont be afraid to ask them to explain what they mean.
Read Also: Can You Die From Parkinson’s
Living And Working With Parkinson’s Disease
Though he would not share the news with the public for another seven years, Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at 29. Upon disclosing his condition in 1998, he committed himself to the campaign for increased Parkinson’s research. Fox announced his retirement from “Spin City” in January 2000, effective upon the completion of his fourth season and 100th episode. Expressing pride in the show, its talented cast, writers and creative team, he explained that new priorities made this the right time to step away from the demands of a weekly series. Later that year he launched The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which the New York Times has called “the most credible voice on Parkinson’s research in the world.” Today the world’s largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s drug development, the Foundation has galvanized the search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease . Fox is widely admired for his tireless work as a patient advocate.
In 2011, he guest-starred in “Larry Versus Michael J. Fox,” the season-eight finale of Larry David’s acclaimed HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” In spring 2009, he portrayed embittered, drug-addicted Dwight in Denis Leary’s hit FX Network drama “Rescue Me,” a role that earned him his fifth Emmy award. His 2006 recurring guest role in the ABC legal drama “Boston Legal” was nominated for an Emmy, and he appeared as Dr. Kevin Casey in the then-NBC series “Scrubs” in 2004.
How Can Parkinson Canada Help You Live Well With Parkinsons
You have access to a team of compassionate, trained Information and Referral Associates who are here to answer your questions and provide guidance and support in English and French. They can help you understand and learn more about your diagnosis, suggest strategies and resources to help you manage your Parkinsons and link you to other support services.
To speak with a Parkinson Canada Information and Referral Associate, call 1-800-565-3000 or email Coming to terms with your diagnosis may be difficult, but you dont have to do it alone. We are here to help.
When youre ready, Parkinson Canada has information and tools to help you manage your diagnosis and can make local connections to people who know what youre feeling.
Also Check: How Is Parkinson’s Disease Inherited
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells, or neurons, in an area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or die. Normally, these neurons produce an important brain chemical known as dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they produce less dopamine, which causes the movement problems of Parkinson’s. Scientists still do not know what causes cells that produce dopamine to die.
People with Parkinson’s also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many functions of the body, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might help explain some of the non-movement features of Parkinson’s, such as fatigue, irregular blood pressure, decreased movement of food through the digestive tract, and sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or lying-down position.
Many brain cells of people with Parkinson’s contain Lewy bodies, unusual clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to better understand the normal and abnormal functions of alpha-synuclein and its relationship to genetic mutations that impact Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia.
Make An Appointment With A Physical Therapist Or Occupational Therapist
- One of the most common phrases we hear from people with Parkinsons is, I wish I had seen a physical therapist sooner. Doing your daily exercise program isnt enough. Physical therapists and occupational therapists create individualized exercises that meet your specific needs. The activities they recommend can improve your posture, gait, arm swing, and other movement challenges.
- to find a Parkinsons PT in your area.
- to learn why youll want to work with a Parkinsons OT.
Don’t Miss: Can Parkinson’s Cause Hip Pain
Causes Of Early Onset Parkinsons Disease
Its unclear exactly what causes Parkinsons at any age. Genetic factors, environmental factors, or some combination of the two may play a role. This condition occurs when cells are lost in the part of the brain that produces dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for sending brain signals that control movement.
Certain genes are associated with early onset Parkinsons.
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, studies show that 65 percent of people with Parkinsons who experience onset before age 20 may do so because of a genetic mutation. This organization also suggests this mutation affects 32 percent of people who experience onset between age 20 and 30.
Environmental causes of the condition may include exposure to chemical toxins such as certain insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes Parkinsons as a disease caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a synthetic chemical herbicide that was used to spray vegetation and trees during the Vietnam War.
You may have a higher risk of developing Parkinsons if you:
- are a man
Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.
Don’t Miss: Is Parkinson’s Disease Fatal
Who Is Affected By Parkinsons Disease
Several studies have found that the incidence of PD is much more common in men than women.2,4 One estimate found that PD affects about 50 percent more men than women.2 The reasons for the differences in men and women with PD are unclear, although some suggested explanations are the protective effect of estrogen in women, the higher rate of minor head trauma and exposure to occupational toxins in men, and genetic susceptibility genes on the sex chromosomes.4
People with a close family member with Parkinsons have a small increased risk of developing the disease. About 15 percent to 25 percent of people with PD have a known relative with the disease.2
It is estimated that about 10 million people worldwide are living with PD. The incidence of the disease is higher in industrialized countries.3,4
The incidence of PD increases with age: while PD affects 1 percent of the population over the age of 60, this increases to 5 percent of the population over the age of 85.1
Approximately 5 percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 60.1
Urban areas have a higher prevalence and incidence of PD.5
Diagnosing Early Onset Parkinsons Disease
There is no single test to detect Parkinsons. A diagnosis may be difficult and take a while. The condition is usually diagnosed by a neurologist based on a review of your symptoms and a physical exam.
A DaTscan to visualize your brains dopamine system may help confirm diagnosis. Blood tests and other imaging tests, such as an MRI scan, dont diagnose Parkinsons. However, they may be used to rule out other conditions.
Also Check: End Stage Parkinson Disease What To Expect
Searches And Data Extraction
A PubMed search was conducted in April 2006 for articles published in English using the following search terms: AND NOT WolffParkinsonWhite Syndrome .
Of the retrieved articles, 54 containing original LE, mortality or survival data were selected for further review. Articles were excluded if they did not provide LE or SMR estimates, or did not use PD diagnosis as the outcome. Studies beginning after 1984 were preferred so that the use of levodopa medication was widespread, as it is now. All articles were evaluated by one of the authors and data on SMRs, stratified by age or sex, collected. For the analysis of LE compared with the 2003 actuary data, only articles from the UK and, as the number of UK studies reporting age specific data was limited, Western Europe were included.
What Is The Outlook For Persons With Parkinsons Disease
Although there is no cure or absolute evidence of ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, scientists are working hard to learn more about the disease and find innovative ways to better manage it, prevent it from progressing and ultimately curing it.
Currently, you and your healthcare teams efforts are focused on medical management of your symptoms along with general health and lifestyle improvement recommendations . By identifying individual symptoms and adjusting the course of action based on changes in symptoms, most people with Parkinsons disease can live fulfilling lives.
The future is hopeful. Some of the research underway includes:
- Using stem cells to produce new neurons, which would produce dopamine.
- Producing a dopamine-producing enzyme that is delivered to a gene in the brain that controls movement.
- Using a naturally occurring human protein glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, GDNF to protect dopamine-releasing nerve cells.
Many other investigations are underway too. Much has been learned, much progress has been made and additional discoveries are likely to come.
Recommended Reading: Stage 5 Parkinson’s Disease Life Expectancy
Whats Different About Young
The age of diagnosis matters for a variety of reasons, from probable causes of early cases to symptoms and treatment:
- Genetics. As with any case of Parkinsons disease, the exact cause is usually unknown. That said, The young-onset cases of Parkinsons disease are, on average, a bit more likely to be familial or genetic, says Gregory Pontone, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Movement Disorders Psychiatry Clinic.
- Symptoms. In many patients with YOPD, dystonia is an early symptom. People with YOPD also report more dyskinesia . They also tend to exhibit cognitive problems, such as dementia and memory issues, less frequently.
- Progression. Patients with young-onset Parkinsons appear to have a slower progression of the disease over time, says Pontone. They tend to have a milder course, staying functional and cognitively intact for much longer.
- Treatment. Most patients with Parkinsons take the medication levodopa. However, other drugs, such as MAO-B inhibitors, anticholinergics, amantadine, and dopamine receptor agonists, may be used before levodopa.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremor, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems, it is called a movement disorder. But constipation, depression, memory problems and other non-movement symptoms also can be part of Parkinsons. PD is a lifelong and progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time.
The experience of living with Parkinson’s over the course of a lifetime is unique to each person. As symptoms and progression vary from person to person, neither you nor your doctor can predict which symptoms you will get, when you will get them or how severe they will be. Even though broad paths of similarity are observed among individuals with PD as the disease progresses, there is no guarantee you will experience what you see in others.
Parkinsons affects nearly 1 million people in the United States and more than 6 million people worldwide.
For an in-depth guide to navigating Parkinsons disease and living well as the disease progresses, check out our Parkinsons 360 toolkit.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Dr. Rachel Dolhun, a movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, breaks down the basics of Parkinson’s.
Eat Healthy Meals Throughout The Day
- Consuming a variety of foods from all five food groups provides consistent energy and keeps your immune system healthy. Focus on eating a minimum of five fruits and vegetables each day, eating a variety of high fiber foods, and staying hydrated, all of which help prevent constipation, which is often an issue for people diagnosed with YOPD.
- Watch this to learn how to use nutrition to help you live well with Parkinsons.
Why Does Parkinsons Occur More In The Elderly
The biggest risk factor for PD is age. While the exact cause remains unknown, scientists believe PD results from a combination of genetic and external factors. It is important to note that many genetic or external factors remain to be discovered and require more scientific research.1
PD affects multiple areas of the body and brain. Death of nerve cells in a brain region called the substantia nigra pars compacta is largely responsible for motor symptoms. These symptoms include tremor, rigidity, and loss of spontaneous movement.
Dopamine is a chemical messenger that transmits signals for producing smooth, purposeful movement. Research has shown that the substantia nigra pars compacta shows more loss of neurons than other areas of the brain. These neurons appear to be more sensitive to some toxins. Many of these toxins target an organelle in neurons called mitochondria which are responsible for generating ATP, the source of energy in a cell.
In addition, during aging, there is a decline in the function of the organelles that clear up and remove damaged proteins in neurons. Also, over time, there is a build up of the alpha-synuclein protein which forms Lewy bodies that damage neurons.
Recommended Reading: Parkinson\’s Life Expectancy
In The Loop: Staying Ahead Of Parkinsons Disease One Ping Pong Game At A Time
Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Steve Grinnell has worked hard to stay active, stepping up his table tennis game and, thanks to co-workers, testing his skills outside his home.
Four years ago, Steve Grinnell’s life was forever changed when doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochester diagnosed him with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Since that time, the progressive nervous system disorder has begun to take a toll on Steve and his family, just as it does on the millions of other Americans living with the disease. “It has greatly diminished his quality of life, leaving him with tremors, physical exhaustion, impaired balance, troubled grasping things with his right hand, slow right-arm movement and problems sleeping,” the Rochester Post-Bulletin recently reported. “That’s to name just a few of his symptoms.”
Reading that, one might assume the disorder is winning. And to Steve, sometimes it feels like it is. But much of the time, he tells us he also feels like he’s staying one step ahead of the disease by staying as physically active as possible. “Parkinson’s presents such a conundrum because it wears you down physically, and yet exercise is so valuable,” Steve says. “My legs, feet and right arm are always cramping, so it takes mental effort to get moving.”
How Can You Participate
Register and attend our monthly live YOPD Council sessions. They will be held on the third Thursday of every month starting July 18, 2020.
We have the following topics scheduled through the end of the year:
- Sex, Love, Dating & Parkinsons
- Work, Money, Meaning & Parkinsons
- Disability, Insurance & Parkinsons
- Exercise, Community & Parkinsons
- Mental Health, Death and Dying & Parkinsons
- Medications, Side Effects & Parkinsons
Submit questions for the live session or other YOPD topic ideas to Melani at