What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic motor system disorder that occurs when the cells that produce dopamine become destroyed or severely damaged. Dopamine is a chemical that sends signals to the brain to control movement. As these cells diminish and the disease progresses, patients gradually lose control of their movements. There is no cure currently available for Parkinson’s disease, although many treatments exist to help patients enjoy a full and happy life.
What causes Parkinson’s Disease?
The specific cause of Parkinson’s disease and why the dopamine cells break down in some people is unknown, although it may be linked to abnormal genes in some patients. Scientists are also studying aging and environmental factors as potential causes. There is not enough evidence available yet to pinpoint any specific cause, although the disease is most commonly seen in patients over the age of 50 and in men.
What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
There are four main symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, including:
- Stiffness in the muscles
- Slow movement
- Difficulty walking or balancing
Most patients notice a slight tremor as their initial symptom, which usually begins in one arm or leg and slowly spreads to other areas of the body. Not everyone who develops a tremor has Parkinson’s disease, as this symptom can be associated with other conditions as well.