Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects a person’s movements. Since we treat Parkinson’s patients with procedures such as deep brain stimulation at Texas Neurosurgery, here’s some general information about this unfortunate disease.
What is Parkinson’s?
Some people mistakenly assume Parkinson’s is a muscle disease, but it is a nervous system disease. It appears that when a person develops Parkinson’s certain nerve cells in the brain gradually break down or die. This leads to abnormal brain activity and the symptoms of the disease.
What are the symptoms?
Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder. Early on, the person often has no idea he or she has Parkinson’s. There may just be a slight tremor. In many cases, the disease is diagnosed when a person goes to a doctor because he or she can’t do a typical activity all of the sudden.
These are the signs and symptoms:
- Tremor. Shaking often begins in your hand or fingers. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth, known as a pill-rolling tremor.
- Slowed movement. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your steps may shorten. It may be difficult to rise from a sitting position. Simple tasks take more time.
- Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness can occur anywhere on your body. Muscles may be painful and limit your range of motion.
- Impaired balance and posture. Balance can become challenging, and your posture may become hunched.
- Loss of automatic movements. Certain movements you don’t even realize you do, such as blinking, may be more and more difficult.
- Speech changes. You may slur your words or speak more quickly or softly. You may talk in a monotone, without your usual inflections.
- Writing changes. Your writing may become smaller and more difficult.
What causes Parkinson’s?
The cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, but patients do show damage to certain nerve cells. Many of these neurons are involved in the production of dopamine. There are some genetic markers, but these seem to vary.
Research is currently focusing on what are known as Lewy bodies. These are clumps of specific substances within brain cells, and they are markers of Parkinson’s disease. An important substance within these Lewy bodies appears to be a protein called alpha-synuclein.
If you have any signs of Parkinson’s please give us a call at Texas Neurosurgery, (214) 823-2052. We have treatments that can slow the progression of the disease.