Consumer Health: Recognizing Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease |
April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, which makes it a good time to learn more about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, approximately 1 million people in the United States and more than 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be different for everyone. The first signs may be mild and go unnoticed. Symptoms often start on one side of your body and usually get worse on that side, even after symptoms start affecting both sides.
Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
• Tremor: A tremor, or tremor, usually begins in a limb, hand, or fingers. You may rub your thumb and index finger back and forth, which is called a pill rolling tremor. Your hand may shake when at rest.
• Slowed movements: Over time, Parkinson’s disease can slow down your movements, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter as you walk. It can be difficult to get up from a chair. You may drag your feet when trying to walk.
• Stiff muscles: Muscle stiffness can occur in any part of your body. Stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.
• Altered posture and balance: Your posture may become hunched or you may have problems with balance.
• Loss of automatic movements: You may have a reduced ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when walking.
• Speech changes: You may speak quietly or quickly, or articulate or hesitate before speaking. Your speech may be more monotonous rather than having the usual inflections.
• Handwriting changes: It may become difficult to write and your handwriting may seem small.
Parkinson’s disease has no cure, but medication can help control symptoms, often dramatically. If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you’ll need to work closely with your healthcare professional to find a treatment plan that gives you the most symptom relief with the fewest side effects. In more advanced cases, surgery may be advised.