What Can You Do If You Have Pd
- Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy. This might include the following:
- A referral to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain
- Care from an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist
- Meeting with a medical social worker to talk about how Parkinson’s will affect your life
For more information, visit our Treatment page.
Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.
How Is Parkinson Disease Treated
Parkinson disease can’t be cured. But there are different therapies that can help control symptoms. Many of the medicines used to treat Parkinson disease help to offset the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Most of these medicines help manage symptoms quite successfully.
A procedure called deep brain stimulation may also be used to treat Parkinson disease. It sends electrical impulses into the brain to help control tremors and twitching movements. Some people may need surgery to manage Parkinson disease symptoms. Surgery may involve destroying small areas of brain tissue responsible for the symptoms. However, these surgeries are rarely done since deep brain stimulation is now available.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of PD vary from person to person, as does the rate of progression. A person who has Parkinson’s may experience some of these more common “hallmark” symptoms:
- Bradykinesia – slowness of movement, impaired dexterity, decreased blinking, drooling, expressionless face.
- Tremor at rest – involuntary shaking that decreases with purposeful movement. Typically starts on one side of the body, usually the hand.
- Rigidity – stiffness caused by involuntary increase in muscle tone.
- Postural instability – sense of imbalance. Patients often compensate by lowering their center of gravity, which results in a stooped posture.
Other symptoms that may or may not occur:
Freezing or being stuck in place Shuffling gait or dragging of one foot Stooped posture Cognitive impairment
Diagnosis And Management Of Parkinsons Disease
There are no diagnostic tests for Parkinsons. X-rays, scans and blood tests may be used to rule out other conditions. For this reason, getting a diagnosis of Parkinsons may take some time.
No two people with Parkinsons disease will have exactly the same symptoms or treatment. Your doctor or neurologist can help you decide which treatments to use.
People can manage their Parkinsons disease symptoms through:
- seeing a Doctor who specialises in Parkinsons
- multidisciplinary therapy provided for example, by nurses, allied health professionals and counsellors
- deep brain stimulation surgery .
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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Treated
If a doctor thinks a person has Parkinson’s disease, there’s reason for hope. Medicine can be used to eliminate or improve the symptoms, like the body tremors. And some experts think that a cure may be found soon.
For now, a medicine called levodopa is often given to people who have Parkinson’s disease. Called “L-dopa,” this medicine increases the amount of dopamine in the body and has been shown to improve a person’s ability to walk and move around. Other drugs also help decrease and manage the symptoms by affecting dopamine levels. In some cases, surgery may be needed to treat it. The person would get anesthesia, a special kind of medicine to prevent pain during the operation.
Whats The Relationship Between Parkinsons And Sleep
Parkinsons disease and sleep are connected in complex ways that not even scientists completely understand quite yet.
Sometimes, Parkinsons disease directly causes sleep problems. According to one study, sleep-related symptoms may be one of the earliest signs of Parkinsons disease. These signs may include things like thrashing while youre asleep.
Other factors can also play a role. One thing is clear: For many people with Parkinsons disease, a restful nights sleep can be hard to find.
How Will The Disease Affect My Life
Most people who have Parkinsonâs live a normal to a nearly normal lifespan, but the disease can be life changing.
For some people, treatment keeps the symptoms at bay, and they’re mostly mild. For others, the disease is much more serious and really limits what you’re able to do.
As it gets worse, it makes it harder and harder to do daily activities like getting out of bed, driving, or going to work. Even writing can seem like a tough task. And in later stages, it can cause dementia.
Even though Parkinson’s can have a big impact on your life, with the right treatment and help from your health care team, you can still enjoy the things you love. It’s important to reach out to family and friends for support. Learning to live with Parkinson’s means making sure you get the backing you need.
How Does Parkinson’s Affect The Body
The telltale symptoms all have to do with the way you move. You usually notice problems like:
Rigid muscles. It can happen on just about any part of your body. Doctors sometimes mistake early Parkinson’s for arthritis.
Slow movements. You may find that even simple acts, like buttoning a shirt, take much longer than usual.
Tremors. Your hands, arms, legs, lips, jaw, or tongue are shaky when you’re not using them.
Walking and balance problems. You may notice your arms aren’t swinging as freely when you walk. Or you can’t take long steps, so you have to shuffle instead.
Stages In Parkinsons Disease
Staging is Not Important in Evaluating Parkinsons Disease
Patients often ask what stage of PD that they are in. I then explain the following as to why that is not an important issue.
Staging in most diseases is important in predicting how long people will live or how well they can function. This is particularly important in cancer and heart disease. Different cancers have different systems for staging as experience has accumulated to distinguish how ominous it is to have cancer spread to local lymph nodes, or distant nodes, above the diaphragm, or below the diaphragm, in the bone marrow or not, etc. So stage 2b in one disease may have a very different prognosis than stage 2b in another form of cancer, but each will be associated with a certain chance of survival for a specified period.
This is not true for staging in PD. The staging system we use is based on a famous paper written by Margaret Hoehn and Melvin Yahr in 1967. Their paper was the first large study of the effect of LDopa on disease progression. In order to assess how the disease progressed, they had to develop a system to rate the severity. It wouldnt do, for example, to say mild,moderate, or severe, as the readers would want to know what they meant by these terms.
Living Well With Parkinson’s
While medication and DBS surgery are the most effective treatments for PD, individuals often choose to delay these treatments because of their adverse side effects. Until a therapy is developed that can halt the progression of PD, there is a significant need for strategies that provide symptom relief without causing negative side effects.
Diet, Exercise, and Stress Reduction
Findings from several studies suggest that exercise has the potential to provide relief from certain PD symptoms. Anecdotally, people with Parkinsons disease who exercise typically do better. However, many questions remain. Among them is whether exercise provides a conditioning effect by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility or whether it has a direct effect on the brain.
In an NINDS-funded trial comparing the benefits of tai chi, resistance training, and stretching, tai chi was found to reduce balance impairments in people with mild-to-moderate PD. People in the tai chi group also experienced significantly fewer falls and greater improvements in their functional capacity.
Technologies that Improve Quality of Life
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Tips For Dealing With Parkinsons Disease Tremor
Because the Parkinson’s tremor appears at rest, many people find that exercise helps control their symptoms. Here are some tips to help you limit the effects of Parkinson’s tremor:
- If the tremor presents in your jaw, try chewing gum to keep the area moving.
- Foot tremors present when you are sitting or lying down, and they always disappear when you stand up. Therefore you should try to avoid long periods of inactivity, as staying still may worsen your tremor symptoms.
- Finger twitching and the “pill roll” tremor refer to tremors in the thumb and fingers. You may find hand exercises such as rotating your hands, moving your fingers or squeezing a stress ball will help ease your symptoms. If you feel self-conscious about your tremor, you can always hide your hands in your pockets or place them under a table until the shaking subsides.
Scientifically Backed Ways To Prevent Parkinsons Disease
Dopamine plays a major role in a variety of mental and physical functions, including:
- Voluntary movement
- General behavior
Parkinsons now afflicts roughly 1.5 million people in the United States alone, with primary symptoms being body tremors, slow movement, rigid limbs, reduced memory, a shuffling gait and speech impairment. So we have to ask:
1.) What causes it?
2.) How do we prevent it?
Currently there isnt a known cure, and its not fully understood what causes the dip in dopamine however, we know that aging is the single most important risk factor for PD, with inflammation and stress contributing to cell damage. And we now know enough about the disease to understand the preventative measures that counter the aging and death of the neurons under attack.
Because there is no known cure, its critical that we prevent the disease before symptoms arise. Granted, thanks to recent advancements in modern surgical procedures, there are some safe surgeries that can mitigate some of the more severe symptoms associated with PD. The most common one now is deep brain stimulation, in which they implant an electrode into the brain that can stop some of the more severe symptoms of Parkinsons.
But this article will try to keep it from getting to that point. The less drugs and surgery we can have in our lives, the better.
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What Is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinsons disease is a degenerative, progressive disorder that affects nerve cells in deep parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in the substantia nigra produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and are responsible for relaying messages that plan and control body movement. For reasons not yet understood, the dopamine-producing nerve cells of the substantia nigra begin to die off in some individuals. When 80 percent of dopamine is lost, PD symptoms such as tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness, and balance problems occur.
Body movement is controlled by a complex chain of decisions involving inter-connected groups of nerve cells called ganglia. Information comes to a central area of the brain called the striatum, which works with the substantia nigra to send impulses back and forth from the spinal cord to the brain. The basal ganglia and cerebellum are responsible for ensuring that movement is carried out in a smooth, fluid manner .
The action of dopamine is opposed by another neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. In PD the nerve cells that produce dopamine are dying. The PD symptoms of tremor and stiffness occur when the nerve cells fire and there isn’t enough dopamine to transmit messages. High levels of glutamate, another neurotransmitter, also appear in PD as the body tries to compensate for the lack of dopamine.
Treatment For The Motor Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
There are many ways to deal with Parkinsons disease motor symptoms, including medications, occupational therapy and lifestyle adjustments. You may find that tremors make you more susceptible to accidents such as tripping, falling or spilling hot liquids so you must take care and ask for the help and support you need.
Unlike other Parkinson’s motor symptoms, tremors can be hard to treat with medication. However, medicines can be helpful for treating symptoms such as Parkinson’s disease gait impairments, which can have a major impact on your life. The gait of Parkinson’s disease presents slightly differently in each patient. Some experience the Parkinson’s disease shuffling gate, which can make movement markedly slower and make it look like you are “dragging your feet.” You may also experience reduced arm movement while walking.
In Parkinson’s disease, freezing of gait is characterized by hesitation before stepping forward, or a feeling like your feet have frozen to the floor. Frozen gait usually only lasts for a step or two, but you will need to be careful when crossing busy streets and try to minimize your risk of falling wherever possible.
You can talk to your doctor about medications to try, as well your surgical and homeopathic options. However, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and no way to stop the symptoms entirely, but scientists are working to change that.
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Can Parkinsons Disease Be Prevented
Unfortunately, no. Parkinsons disease is long-term disease that worsens over time. Although there is no way to prevent or cure the disease , medications may significantly relieve your symptoms. In some patients especially those with later-stage disease, surgery to improve symptoms may be an option.
How Exactly Is Lewy Body Dementia Related To Alzheimers Disease And Parkinsons Disease
Lewy body dementia is a broad, general term for dementia in which lewy bodies are present in the brain. Dementia with lewy bodies and Parkinsons disease dementia are two related clinical disorders that make up the general broader category of Lewy body dementia. Sometimes LBD is first diagnosed as Parkinsons disease or Alzheimers disease based on its symptoms.
- Parkinsons disease dementia : You might be diagnosed with Parkinsons disease if you start out with a movement disorder typical to Parkinsons but then have your diagnosis changed to PDD when dementia symptoms develop.
- Alzheimers disease : You might start out with memory or cognitive disorder that leads to a diagnosis of AD. Over time, other distinctive symptoms begin to appear and your diagnosis is then changed to dementia with lewy bodies. Distinctive symptoms of LBD include the changes in attention, alertness and cognitive ability changes in walking and movement visual hallucinations REM sleep behavior disorder and severe sensitivity to some antipsychotics used to treat hallucinations.
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How Parkinsons Disease Affects The Body
Life with Parkinsons is challenging, to say the least. This progressive disease starts slowly, and because theres currently no cure, it gradually worsens how you think and feel.
Giving up may seem like the only solution, but it certainly isnt. Thanks to advanced treatments, many people are able to continue living healthy, productive lives with Parkinsons.
Take a glance at this infographic to get a visual picture of how Parkinsons can affect everything from your memory to your movement.
How Do Symptoms Progress
The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement.
Not everyone with Parkinson’s experiences the same combination of symptoms they vary from person to person.
Also, how Parkinson’s affects someone can change from day to day, and even from hour to hour. Symptoms that may be noticeable one day may not be a problem the next.
Many of the symptoms can be treated or managed with medication and therapies.
Many people with Parkinson’s lead active and fulfilling lives. An important part of coping with Parkinson’s is understanding how it affects you and how to work around it.
It may not always be easy to maintain a positive outlook, especially immediately after diagnosis. But we can give you help and support.
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Does Parkinsons Affect Voice
The voice is affected too, because the voice box is ultimately controlled by the basal ganglia as well. Thus the voice becomes soft, slurred and hushed. Others may comment that the patient is mumbling. The mumbling goes away temporarily once the patient becomes aware of it but soon returns to the soft, slurred state.
This temporary improvement when attention is paid is true of many of the motor symptoms of PD because the condition primarily affects subconscious movements, and does not directly affect nerve or muscle control at the most basic level. Thus, conscious awareness can override the slowness to a certain extent. This fact is one reason why physical therapy and physical activity are so useful and necessary in treating PD.
- Slowness of walking and other movements
- Trouble with dexterity
- Reduced arm swing or stride length
- Delayed reactions physically
- Reduced facial reactions
- Softer or slurred speech
- Tremor in one or both limbs with the limb at rest
- Sometimes also tremor with holding a posture or with actions
- Usually asymmetric
Imbalance, loss of balance reflexes
- May fall backwards