What Are The Symptoms
The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Tremor, which means shaking or trembling. Tremor may affect your hands, arms, or legs.
- Stiff muscles.
- Slow movement.
- Problems with balance or walking.
Tremor may be the first symptom you notice. It’s one of the most common signs of the disease, although not everyone has it.
More importantly, not everyone with a tremor has Parkinson’s disease.
Tremor often starts in just one arm or leg or on only one side of the body. It may be worse when you are awake but not moving the affected arm or leg. It may get better when you move the limb or you are asleep.
In time, Parkinson’s affects muscles all through your body, so it can lead to problems like trouble swallowing or constipation.
In the later stages of the disease, a person with Parkinson’s may have a fixed or blank expression, trouble speaking, and other problems. Some people also lose mental skills .
People usually start to have symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60. But sometimes symptoms start earlier.
How Is It Treated
At this time, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But there are several types of medicines that can control the symptoms and make the disease easier to live with.
You may not even need treatment if your symptoms are mild. Your doctor may wait to prescribe medicines until your symptoms start to get in the way of your daily life. Your doctor will adjust your medicines as your symptoms get worse. You may need to take several medicines to get the best results.
Levodopa is the best drug for controlling symptoms of Parkinson’s. But it can cause problems if you use it for a long time or at a high dose. So doctors sometimes use other medicines to treat people in the early stages of the disease.
The decision to start taking medicine, and which medicine to take, will be different for each person. Your doctor will be able to help you make these choices.
In some cases, a treatment called deep brain stimulation may also be used. For this treatment, a surgeon places wires in your brain. The wires carry tiny electrical signals to the parts of the brain that control movement. These little signals can help those parts of the brain work better.
There are many things you can do at home that can help you stay as independent and healthy as possible. Eat healthy foods. Get the rest you need. Make wise use of your energy. Get some exercise every day. Physical therapy and occupational therapy can also help.
Tests Reveal Incredible Accuracy In Detecting Parkinsons
Researchers conducted a blind study of 50 skin samples, including 25 Parkinsons patients and 25 people without neurological disorders. Using a protein chemical assay, the skin test correctly diagnosed 24 out of 25 Parkinsons patients. Only one of the 25 control samples tested positive for protein clumping.
These results indicate tremendously high sensitivity and specificity which is critical for a diagnostic test, Dr. Charles Adler, a professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic Arizona says.
The clinical diagnostic accuracy for early-stage PD has been quite poor, only around 50-70%. And since clinical trials really need to be done at an early stage to avoid further brain damage, they have been critically hampered because they have been including large percentages of people who may not actually have the disease, study co-investigator Dr. Thomas Beach explains. Improving clinical diagnostic accuracy is, in my view, the very first thing we need to do in order to find new useful treatments for PD.
Kanthasamy says the results show great promise which could lead to a reliable way to detect Parkinsons. Early detection can also help other researchers get their therapeutic treatments to patients faster potentially stopping the disease before it advances.
The study appears in the journal Movement Disorders.
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There Are : : : : : Stages Of Parkinson’s Disease
There are five stages of Parkinson’s disease, described with the most commonly used Hoehn and Yahr scale: – Stage one: Symptoms such as tremors or shaking on one side of the body- Stage two: Tremors or shaking one or both sides of the body possible imbalance- Stage three: Noticeable balance impairment and slowing of motion- Stage four: Severe symptoms, disability patient likely needs assistance- Stage five: Patient may be bedridden or wheelchair bound needs constant care Another scale that may be used to describe symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is called the Movement Disorders Society-Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale . It is a four-part scale that measures motor movement in PD: non-motor experiences of daily living, motor experiences of daily living, motor examination, and motor complications.
What Are The Limitations Of The Test
Currently, DaTscan that is in clinical use is not quantitative, which means that the test is not designed to determine how impaired the dopamine system is just whether it is or not. This means that the test is not used to tell you whether the disease has progressed over time and is not used to follow a patients disease. It also is not used currently as a clinical test to screen for the disease before motor symptoms are evident. Because of these limitations, the search continues for additional measurable indicators, known as biomarkers, to help diagnosis and manage PD.
Tips and Takeaways
- DaTscan is a test that can help in the diagnosis of PD, although in most situations a clinical exam done by a neurologist offers the same information.
- Neurologists are skilled to diagnose PD through a clinical exam. While the exam to some may seem very basic and thus a PD diagnosis subjective or questionable, neurologists are well-trained to assess and diagnose with confidence.
- DaTscan may be useful in distinguishing PD from certain conditions, but not from others, so talk with your neurologist about whether DaTscan would be useful in your specific situation.
- DaTscan is not a test used for monitoring PD progression. It can be used to help clarify a PD diagnosis, but it is not a test you would undergo multiple times during the course of your disease.
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What Causes Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is the result of the loss of the brain chemical dopamine. When nerve cells, called neurons, in an area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or die, the amount of dopamine they normally produce decreases. This loss of dopamine causes the movement problems seen in people with PD.
Parkinson’s Disease Can Be Prevented
There does not seem to be a way to predict or prevent Parkinson’s disease. Current research is investigating a biomarker â some kind of biological abnormality that would be present in patients with PD â that would be able to be detected from testing. This could help doctors identify people who are at-risk for developing Parkinson’s and thus find treatments to stop the disease process in the early stages or slow the progression. There are rare cases of genetically inherited PD where researchers can test for these genetic biomarkers to determine a person’s risk for developing the disease.
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What Tests Might I Have
People who have Parkinsonâs disease donât make enough of a brain chemical called dopamine, which helps you move. If those first tests donât show a reason for your symptoms, your doctor may ask you to try a medication called carbidopa-levodopa, which your brain can turn into dopamine. If your symptoms get much better after you start the drug, your doctor probably will tell you that you have Parkinsonâs disease.
If the medication doesnât work for you and thereâs no other explanation for your issues, your doctor might suggest an imaging test called a DaTscan. This uses a small amount of a radioactive drug and a special scanner, called a single photon emission computed tomography scanner, to see how much dopamine is in your brain. This test can’t tell you for sure that you have Parkinson’s disease, but it can give your doctor more information to work with.
It can take a long time for some people to get a diagnosis. You may need to see your neurologist regularly so they can keep an eye on your symptoms and eventually figure out whatâs behind them.
Is Early Diagnosis Possible
Experts are becoming more aware of symptoms of Parkinsons that precede physical manifestations. Clues to the disease that sometimes show up before motor symptoms and before a formal diagnosis are called prodromal symptoms. These include the loss of sense of smell, a sleep disturbance called REM behavior disorder, ongoing constipation thats not otherwise explained and mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Research into these and other early symptoms holds promise for even more sensitive testing and diagnosis.
For example, biomarker research is trying to answer the question of who gets Parkinsons disease. Researchers hope that once doctors can predict that a person with very early symptoms will eventually get Parkinsons disease, those patients can be appropriately treated. At the very least, these advances could greatly delay progression.
Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center
Our center provides compassionate and timely treatment to patients with movement disorders, such as dystonia, ataxia, essential tremor and similar conditions. But our mission goes beyond patient care excellence. By offering educational events and support groups, we empower patients and caregivers to become better partners in their health.
How To Test For Parkinson’s Disease
This article was medically reviewed by Erik Kramer, DO, MPH. Dr. Erik Kramer is a Primary Care Physician at the University of Colorado, specializing in internal medicine, diabetes, and weight management. He received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Dr. Kramer is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is board certified.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 35,437 times.
Parkinsons Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting both motor and non-motor abilities. It afflicts 1% of those over 60 years of age.XResearch sourceJOHN D. GAZEWOOD, MD, MSPH,D. ROXANNE RICHARDS, MD,KARL CLEBAK, MD, Parkinsons An Update, The American Family Physician, 2013 Feb 15 87:267-273 It is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system. PD is caused by a lack of dopamine, a chemical that helps the parts of your brain responsible for motor function communicate with each other. This condition often causes tremors, muscle stiffness, slowness, and poor balance. If you suspect that you, or someone you love, has Parkinsons, it is important to know how you can diagnose this condition. Begin by trying to identify symptoms of the disease at home, and then see your doctor for an appropriate medical diagnosis.
Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
These common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease often begin gradually and progress over time:
- Shaking or tremor
- Poor posture
- Slowing of body movements
As the disease continues to progress, additional symptoms can occur such as slurred or soft speech, trouble chewing and/or swallowing, memory loss, constipation, trouble sleeping, loss of bladder control, anxiety, depression, inability to regulate body temperature, sexual dysfunction, decreased ability to smell, restless legs and muscle cramps.
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There Are No Laboratory Tests To Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease
Currently there are no laboratory tests that can diagnose Parkinson’s disease. This can make it difficult to accurately diagnose because PD resembles other movement disorders. In order to diagnose PD, a physician will take a complete medical history and perform a neurological exam. Additional testing may be done simply to rule out other neurological conditions that may resemble Parkinson’s.
What Are The Pitfalls Of Datscan
DaTscan will appear abnormal in any disease in which there is a loss of dopamine nerve endings in the striatum. Therefore, Parkinson-plus syndromes, discussed in a prior blog, such as Progressive supranuclear palsy , Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration and Multiple system atrophy all typically demonstrate abnormal DaTscans. DaTscan therefore cannot be used to distinguish between these syndromes.
Every medical test has a false positive and a false negative rate. This means, that it is inevitable that in a certain percentage of people who have PD, the DaTscan will be read as normal and in a certain percentage of people without PD, the DaTscan will be read as abnormal. Results of any medical test that is performed, must therefore be considered within the entire clinical context.
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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health and will do a neurological examination. This examination includes questions and tests that show how well your nerves are working. For example, your doctor will watch how you move, check your muscle strength and reflexes, and check your vision.
Your doctor will also ask questions about your mood.
In some cases, your doctor may have you try a medicine. How this medicine works may help your doctor know if you have Parkinson’s disease.
There are no lab or blood tests that can help your doctor know whether you have Parkinson’s. But you may have tests to help your doctor rule out other diseases that could be causing your symptoms. For example, you might have an MRI to look for signs of a stroke or brain tumour.
How A Diagnosis Is Made
The bedside examination by a neurologist remains the first and most important diagnostic tool for Parkinsons disease . Researchers are working to develop a standard biological marker such as a blood test or an imaging scan that is sensitive and specific for Parkinsons disease.
A neurologist will make the diagnosis based on:
- A detailed history of symptoms, medical problems, current and past medications. Certain medical conditions, as well as some medications, can cause symptoms similar to Parkinsons.
- A detailed neurological examination during which a neurologist will ask you to perform tasks to assess the agility of arms and legs, muscle tone, gait and balance, to see if:
- Expression and speech are animated.
- Tremor can be observed in your extremities at rest or in action.
- There is stiffness in extremities or neck.
- You can maintain your balance and examine your posture.
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Who Can Get It
While anyone can develop Parkinsons disease, age is the greatest factor in receiving a diagnosis. The average age of developing this disease is 60, and men are more likely to receive a diagnosis than women. Having a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who has Parkinsons disease doubles your risk factor.
The Facts About Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurogenerative disease that causes nerve cells in the area of the brain that controls movement to weaken and/or die. While healthy neurons produce a chemical called dopamine, which the brain needs a certain amount of in order to regulate movement, weakened neurons produce lower levels of dopamine. What causes these neurons to weaken is currently unknown.
Some patients with Parkinson’s disease also suffer from a decline in norepinephrine, a chemical that transmits signals across nerve endings and controls various functions, such as blood pressure and heart rate.
More than 10 million people worldwide are currently living with Parkinson’s disease and nearly one million will be living with the disease in the United States this year, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
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How Do You Know You Have Parkinsons Disease
There is no definitive way to diagnose Parkinsons disease. Your doctor will ask questions about the onset of your symptoms and assess your movement to make referrals to specialists who can make a formal diagnosis.
You can expect to see a neurologist who can complete a neurologic examination. This may include brain imaging, an MRI, or a PET scan to see activity in the area of the brain typically affected by Parkinsons disease.
Your doctor may also refer you to a movement disorder specialist. Seeing subspecialists is very important to avoid being misdiagnosed. Highly trained specialists can provide their expertise in specific areas of medicine where a precise diagnosis isnt possible from blood work or another definitive test.
What Are Lewy Bodies
Lewy bodies are abnormal protein deposits found in the brain. Researchers do not know exactly why Lewy bodies form or what role they may play in Parkinson’s disease, but they seem to be linked to certain types of dementia associated with both PD and Alzheimer’s disease. Lewy body dementia is a degenerative disease and symptoms range from parkinsonian symptoms such as bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor, and shuffling walk, to symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease . Symptoms may fluctuate, even from day to day. In later stages patients may develop hallucinations.
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If Its Not Parkinsons Disease What Could It Be
Here are some possibilities:
Side effects of medication: Certain drugs used for mental illnesses like psychosis or major depression can bring on symptoms like the ones caused by Parkinsonâs disease. Anti-nausea drugs can, too, but they typically happen on both sides of your body at the same time. They usually go away a few weeks after you stop taking the medication.
Essential tremor: This is a common movement disorder that causes shaking, most often in your hands or arms. Itâs more noticeable when youâre using them, like when you eat or write. Tremors caused by Parkinsonâs disease usually happen when youâre not moving.
Progressive supranuclear palsy: People with this rare disease can have problems with balance, which may cause them to fall a lot. They donât tend to have tremors, but they do have blurry vision and issues with eye movement. These symptoms usually get worse faster than with Parkinson’s disease.
Normal pressure hydrocephalus : This happens when a certain kind of fluid builds up in your brain and causes pressure. People with NPH usually have trouble walking, a loss of bladder control, and dementia.