Parkinson’s Disease (also known as PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, which is the result of a loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Over 1,000,000 people in the United States have Parkinson’s Disease and 50,000-60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed every year. There is no known cure for Parkinson’s Disease, but a number of medications, therapy and surgery can provide patients with relief from some symptoms.
The most common type of Parkinson’s Disease is known as late-onset disease which begins after age 50. If signs and symptoms begin before age 50 the condition is described as early-onset disease. Early-onset cases that begin before age 20 are sometimes referred to as juvenile-onset Parkinson disease.
The four primary symptoms that most patients experience are: tremor of the hand, arms, legs, jaw or face, bradykinesia, or slowness of movement, rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and/or trunk and postural instability or impaired balance and coordination. Parkinson ’s Disease is subtle and occurs gradually for most people, while in some the disease is more progressive. As the disease progresses more symptoms will begin to interfere with daily activities, leaving a patients unable to control movement normally
Other common symptoms may include pain, dementia or confusion; fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, constipation, cognitive changes, fear or anxiety and urinary problems. These symptoms can vary from person to person
While some patients may become severely disabled, others experience mild motor disruptions. Your neurologist cannot predict symptoms or the intensity of symptoms that will affect individual patients. Causes Like many neurological disorders the cause of Parkinson’s Disease is not known. However, many experts think that the disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, which may vary from person to person. Researchers and scientists are working to uncover the possible causes, treatments and possible cures for Parkinson’s Disease or major symptoms.
Currently there is no single laboratory or blood test to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease. Instead, neurologists generally take a detailed history of the patient’s symptoms, conduct a physical examination, rule out current and past medications and note patients’ response to medication that cause improvement in symptoms. Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately and your neurologist may request brain scans or laboratory tests to rule out other diseases.
There is no single treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and your neurologist will work with you to develop a individual plan for your ongoing treatment and care. While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s Disease the goal of your neurologist is to control your symptoms and increase your quality of life. Treatment options include medication, surgery, and therapy and lifestyle modifications, which includes exercise and rest, physical therapy, support groups, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease or you have the primary symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease you should know that studies show that patients with Parkinson’s Disease do best if they are treated by a neurologist. At our office our neurologists, Dr. Shimizu and Dr. O’Connor, diagnose and treat patients with Parkinson’s Disease. To make an appointment with a Parkinson’s specialist contact us to schedule an appointment 310-829-5968.