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.
New Medications For Off Time
A number of new medications approved recently are designed to reduce OFF time. These medications fall into two major categories:
- Medications that lengthen the effect of a carbidopa/levodopa dose
- Medications that are used as needed if medication effects wear off
Well give specific examples below. In general, new medications that extend the length of a carbidopa/levodopa dose are used if OFF time is somewhat predictable and occurs prior to next dose. New medications that are used as needed are most beneficial when OFF time is not predictable.
New medications that lengthen the effect of a dose of carbidopa/levodopa
- Istradefylline is an adenosine A2A receptor antagonist which was approved in the US in 2019 as an add-on therapy to levodopa for treatment of OFF time in PD. Unlike many of the other medications, it has a novel mechanism of action and is the first medication in its class to be approved for PD. It acts on the adenosine receptor, which modulates the dopaminergic system, but is not directly dopaminergic. The drug was developed in Japan and underwent clinical trials both in Japan and in the US.
- Opicapone is a catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitor that is taken once a day. It was approved in the US in 2020 as an add-on therapy to levodopa for motor fluctuations.
New formulations of levodopa designed to be used as needed if medication effects wear off
Other medications used as needed if medication effects wear off
The Nervous System & Dopamine
To understand Parkinson’s, it is helpful to understand how neurons work and how PD affects the brain .
Nerve cells, or neurons, are responsible for sending and receiving nerve impulses or messages between the body and the brain. Try to picture electrical wiring in your home. An electrical circuit is made up of numerous wires connected in such a way that when a light switch is turned on, a light bulb will beam. Similarly, a neuron that is excited will transmit its energy to neurons that are next to it.
Neurons have a cell body with branching arms, called dendrites, which act like antennae and pick up messages. Axons carry messages away from the cell body. Impulses travel from neuron to neuron, from the axon of one cell to the dendrites of another, by crossing over a tiny gap between the two nerve cells called a synapse. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters allow the electrical impulse to cross the gap.
Neurons talk to each other in the following manner :
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What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremor, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems, it is called a movement disorder. But constipation, depression, memory problems and other non-movement symptoms also can be part of Parkinsons. PD is a lifelong and progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time.
The experience of living with Parkinsons over the course of a lifetime is unique to each person. As symptoms and progression vary from person to person, neither you nor your doctor can predict which symptoms you will get, when you will get them or how severe they will be. Even though broad paths of similarity are observed among individuals with PD as the disease progresses, there is no guarantee you will experience what you see in others.
Parkinsons affects nearly 1 million people in the United States and more than 6 million people worldwide.
For an in-depth guide to navigating Parkinsons disease and living well as the disease progresses, check out our Parkinsons 360 toolkit.
What Is Parkinsons Disease?
Dr. Rachel Dolhun, a movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, breaks down the basics of Parkinsons.
Other Tremors And How It Differs
A Parkinsonian tremor has a few distinct characteristics, though it may be easy to confuse with other types of tremors depending on the other symptoms a person shows. Doctors will look for and rule out other types of tremors to confirm their diagnosis.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that some common tremors include:
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Treatments For Essential Tremor
According to Harvard.edu, there are several actions that can be taken to help manage your essential tremor and minimize how they impact your daily life. First, lets cover treatment options:
As each patient is different, you and your doctor will need to decide what the best course of action is for you. You must weigh the pros and cons of each treatment option based on your lifestyle and how you think theyll impact your quality of life.
Few Facts About Parkinsons Disease
Here are a few facts about Parkinsons disease, which you should know affirmatively.
- Parkinsons disease is a disease of nervous system.
- Parkinsons disease is progressive disease.
- This nervous system disease commonly affects male populations.
- This is also known as shaking palsy. Therefore some Ayurveda physicians use the word Kampa Vata for the condition of Parkinsons disease.
- In 2015, Parkinsons Disease affected 6.2 million people and resulted in about 117,400 deaths globally
- In start Parkinsons remains silent. Therefore diagnosis is delayed.
- Tremors during rest are common in Parkinsons.
- The main problem is always disability in movement.
- Restricted movements doesnt allow a patient to move freely.
- Above all this condition doesnt have any treatment yet, with allopathy medicines.
- This comes in a list of incurable diseases, as per the modern medicine.
- It was considered to be a disease of old age.
- Nowadays, patients in early ages are more evident.
- Genetic factors are responsible for this degenerative disease of central nervous system.
Patients need to depend on the chemicals. Dosage of medicine increases regularly so are the complications of the disease.
We need to find what Ayurveda can offer for the treatment of this challenging condition. And how can the Ayurveda treatment regime be helpful in Parkinsons disease?
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Impact Of Tremor For Patients With Early Stage Parkinsons Disease
Patients with early stage PD consistently rank tremor as highly important, even when asked to consider other diverse aspects of their condition. Tremor was cited as the most bothersome symptom in a survey of 75 PD patients with relatively mild symptom severity . Twenty-eight percent of patients mentioned tremor in their open-ended response to the question, Which two problems related to Parkinsons disease bother you most?
The psychosocial impact of tremor for many PD patients is insidious and profound and goes well beyond a general annoyance . During an in-depth structured interview , patients and caregivers shared emotional and highly compelling stories of trying to disguise tremor during the early stages of PD by wearing clothes with pockets or hiding an affected hand behind ones back. They went further to express dreading the progression of their tremor during later stages of PD with remarks such as, as it changes to slavering and trembling in a corner, I will find that a horror.
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Defining The Condition: Parkinsons Vs Essential Tremor
Parkinsons Disease: According to the Parkinsons Foundation, Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Parkinsons itself is not a fatal disease, however, it can have serious complications that can be.
- At what age does Parkinsons usually manifest? Typically Parkinsons typically manifests in individuals 50 years or older. However, Young Onset Parkinsons , affects 2% to 10% of individuals in the U.S. with Parkinsons.
- What is the prevalence of Parkinsons disease? According to Nih.gov, approximately 1.8% of adults 65 and older suffer from Parkinsons disease.
Essential Tremor: As defined by John Hopkins Medicine, essential tremor disorder is a neurological condition that causes your hands, head, trunk, voice, or legs to shake rhythmically. Generally, these tremors are worse when moving than when at rest. However, tremors can be severe enough to interfere with regular daily activities such as eating, speaking, and even using the restroom independently. Essential tremor is considered benign, or non-life-threatening.
- At what age does essential tremor usually manifest? Essential tremor typically affects individuals over the age of 65, however, it can develop at any age.
- What is the prevalence of essential tremor? According to Nih.gov, approximately 4.67% of adults 65 and older suffer from essential tremor.
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Fda Approves Focused Ultrasound For Tremor
Tremor-predominant Parkinsons disease joins Essential tremor as an FDA-approved indication for the use of Focused ultrasound. Focused ultrasound is a technology in which beams of ultrasound waves are focused on a designated target thereby concentrating enough energy to create a small lesion. When a lesion is created in very specific locations in the brain, it can disrupt the abnormal Parkinsons circuitry, thereby treating some of PDs motor symptoms.
Individual ultrasound waves do not contain enough energy to do any damage as they pass through a patients skull and brain tissue. It is not until multiple waves are all focused on a particular spot that a lesion is formed. In the recently approved procedure, MRI is used to precisely direct the ultrasound waves to an area of the thalamus, a structure deep in the brain that acts as a relay station for many of the brains functions. Abnormalities of thalamic circuitry are known to play a role in tremor and lesioning specific areas of the thalamus decreases tremor. Research of focused ultrasound in other brain regions continues to be explored as possible treatments for PD symptoms such as slowness and stiffness.
The device used to deliver this treatment is called Exablate Neuro and is a product of the company InSightec.
Limitations Side Effects And Long
Baltuch cautions, however, that focused ultrasound thalamotomy is not without risk or side effects, there are limitations, and there are not yet long-term studies.
- Side effects: Side effects include difficulty walking or unsteadiness following the procedure, along with tingling or numbness in the lips or fingers. Most issues resolve within months.
- Limitations: Currently, only one side of the body can be treated. Earlier forms of surgical ablation sometimes resulted in speech difficulties, so for now, the FDA has limited treatment to one side of the brain. The side that controls the patients dominant hand is usually targeted. INSIGHTEC is exploring bilateral treatment in medical centers outside the U.S. In addition, while treatment can reduce or eliminate tremors on one side of the body, it does not stop other symptoms of Parkinsons or slow disease progression.
- Long-term studies: Because five- and 10-year studies have not yet been conducted, We dont yet long-term effectiveness of focused ultrasound thalamotomy for tremor-dominant Parkinsons and essential tremor, says Baltuch. The published data show that this may not be as effective in tremor reduction as, potentially, deep brain stimulation can. And, although its non-invasive, youre still making a thermal lesion .
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How Are Parkinsons Disease And Essential Tremor Treated
Medication is the first choice for Parkinsons treatment, but Parkinsons patients dont respond well to drugs or have side effects. In Essential tremor, the response rate to medications is less than Parkinsons disease and up to 30% may not tolerate medications or may have an unsatisfactory response. In these cases, surgical treatment may be considered.Before the arrival of FUS, surgical options for Parkinsons treatment included thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation .Both these options are considered minimally invasive although they involve incisions, use of drills to open a small hole in the skull and the insertion of one or more electrodes into the brain. In the case of DBS, the hardware is implanted into the brain and a pacemaker similar to a heart pacemaker is implanted into the chest wall.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated
There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.
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Parkinson’s Or Benign Essential Tremor
Essential tremors may be confused with the tremors in Parkinson’s disease. However, essential tremors usually affect both extremities equally and get worse when the hands are used, in contrast to Parkinson’s tremors. Also, Parkinson’s tremors are reduced or temporally stopped with carbidopa-levodopa medication while essential tremors respond to other medications. Parkinson’s disease does not usually occur in multiple family members but essential tremors do and are more common than Parkinson’s tremors.
Parkinson’s Surgery: Deep Brain Stimulation
Another treatment method, usually attempted as effectiveness of medical treatments for Parkinson’s disease wane, is termed deep brain stimulation. The technique involves surgery to implant electrodes deep into the brain in the globus pallidus, thalamus, or the subthalamic nucleus areas. Then electric impulses that stimulate the brain tissue to help overcome tremors, rigidity, and slow movements are given. Impulses are generated by a battery. This surgery is not for every Parkinson’s disease patient it is done on patients that meet certain criteria. Also, the surgery does not stop other symptoms and does not end the progression of the disease.
Tackle Parkinsons Tremor With Targeted Exercises
This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and head online coach Jason King demonstrate how you can perform specific exercises to help manage tremor activity. To perform these exercises, you can use a plush ball , a deflated ball, or another soft, light ball.
Parkinsons disease can sometimes cause tremor, involuntary shaking or movement that often affects the hands. Engaging in specific exercises, such as the coconut crack demonstrated in this video, can help manage your tremor.
MyParkinsonsTeam has partnered with PD Warrior an organization that specializes in providing rehabilitative exercise programs to people with Parkinsons disease to provide a six-part series of exercises for people living with PD. These low-impact exercises can help you increase your motor output.
Consider these steps before you work through this week’s video:
- If you arent accustomed to exercising, check with your physician first.
- If your doctor gives you clearance, it is suggested that you warm up prior to exercising and stretch after you complete your session.
- Try to engage in exercise three times per week.
- Feeling some muscle soreness following exercise is normal.
- Maintaining hydration, stretching, and warming up can help combat muscle soreness.
Symptoms And Warning Signs
Symptoms of Parkinsons fall into two major categories: those related to motor functions, and those related to changes in someones mood. The four most common signs and symptoms of Parkinsons disease include:
- Trembling: This usually presents itself in the arms, jaw, legs and face.
- Rigidity: Most patients experience stiffness of the bodys core as well as their arms and legs.
- Bradykinesia: This is the term for slowness of movement. Some patients pause or freeze when moving without being able to start again, and others begin to shuffle when trying to walk.
- Postural instability : This results in loss of strength, loss of balance and problems with moving muscles or coordinating body parts.
Other symptoms that can also occur, which often impact someones moods and other behaviors, include:
- Sexual dysfunction
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