Parkinson’s is a disease that comes about after the death of cells in the brain that secrete a chemical called dopamine which is used to in the communication between brain cells. The cause for death of the cells is however unknown. The disease has a genetic predisposition and appears to be more common amongst people exposed to certain spray chemicals. Diagnosis is often difficult as such evaluation is mainly based on the symptoms -- especially the motor symptoms which are the most noticeable. The motor symptoms are associated with body movement and other voluntary muscle activities.
The most prevalent Parkinson’s symptom is a tremor in the body. The tremors are experienced by more than 70% of all the sufferers, though tremors may not be apparent in the initial onset of the disease. As the disease progresses, most of the sufferers develop these tremors; the initial tremor usually comes about when the person is at rest. When a voluntary action is undertaken or the person sleeps, the tremors cease. The tremors usually affect a single arm or leg and progresses slowly to affect other parts of the body. The tremors experienced usually have a frequency of about 6 cycles per second. A common tremor experienced is the pill rolling which is a form of tremor where the index finger and the thumb come into contact and perform a circular motion which mimics how pills were created by hand.
Another motor symptom of the disease is Bradikynesia. Bradikynesia refers to slowness of movement. The symptom refers to difficulty in planning and execution of a movement process. This is one of the disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It involves difficulty in performing tasks which are specific like writing, dressing and sewing. The difficulty can however be encountered when an external cue is provided. The Bradikynesia does not affect all parts of the body the same way and, the severity can depend on the emotional state of the person.
Another motor symptom associated with the disease is rigidity in the muscles. The rigidity refers to when there is an impediment to muscle movement which may be caused by a contraction of the muscles leading to an even muscle tone. The rigidity either can be even in the muscles or can be irregular. The rigidity cause pain in most of the limb joints which is one of the indicators of the disease. Parkinson’s symptoms usually affect the face and neck muscles before it progresses throughout the body.
Instability in posture is also one of the major motor symptoms. It usually comes in the latter stages of the disease. The instability may lead to many falls which may result in fractured bones. The severity of the disease determines the frequency of falls with about 40% of the sufferers falling once a week. Other motor problems include shuffling gait and mask like expressions.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s may greatly resemble those of other diseases. If you suspect of any symptoms you should see a physician to determine if it really is Parkinson’s disease.