Parkinson's disease: signs, symptoms and treatment

Parkinson's disease: signs, symptoms and treatment

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine.

The motor symptoms of the disease are the result of the death of the pigmented neurons of the black substance, a region of the middle brain. This results in the lack of sufficient production of dopamine in these areas. The reason for this cell death is poorly understood, but it implies the accumulation of proteins in Lewy bodies in neurons.

The cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown, but it is believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. People with an affected family member are more likely to get the disease. There is also an increased risk in people who have been exposed to certain pesticides and among those who have had severe head injuries.

Most of the symptoms of people take years to develop, and they can live for many years with the disease. After diagnosis, treatments can help relieve symptoms, but today there is still no cure for this terrible disease.


  • 1 Signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease
  • 2 Common motor symptoms
  • 3 Non-motor symptoms
  • 4 Other
  • 5 Stages of Parkinson's Disease
  • 6 Treatment of Parkinson's disease

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease differ from one person to another. They also change as the disease progresses.

During the early stages of the disease, it may not give any alarm signal and any symptoms may be observed. Generally, symptoms develop slowly and often go unnoticed by family, friends, and even the person who has them.

So that, The symptoms are unique to each individual, and the progression of symptoms also varies from person to person., although five stages of Parkinson's have been described that can help to understand the changes that occur over time. Some people may take 20 years to go through all stages. In others, the disease progresses more rapidly.

Common motor symptoms

In addition to tremor, the most common symptoms include:

Tremor (especially at rest)

The earthquake This is usually the first symptom that people with Parkinson's disease. At first, the tremor may appear on only one arm or leg, or on only one side of the body, and occurs when being awake, sitting or standing (tremor at rest), and improves when that part of the body moves. Tremor can also affect the chin, lips and tongue. As the disease progresses, the tremor can spread to both sides of the body. But in some cases the tremor remains on only one side. Emotional and physical stress tends to make the tremor more noticeable.. Sleep, complete relaxation and intentional or action movement usually reduce or stop the tremor.

Muscle stiffness (muscle hypertonia) and sore muscles

One of the first most common symptoms of Parkinson's is a reduction of the swing of the arms of a side when walking. This is caused by muscle stiffness. Stiffness can also affect the muscles of the legs, face, neck or other parts of the body. This can make the muscles feel tired and sore.

Slow or limited movement (bradykinesia)

It is a slowness in voluntary and involuntary movements, but mainly difficulty to start and finish them. For example, it may be difficult for you to get out of a chair or roll over in bed.

Weakness of the muscles of the face and throat

It may be harder to talk and swallow. People with these symptoms may choke on food, cough or drool. The speech becomes softer and monotonous. Loss of movement in the muscles of the face can cause a fixed, empty facial expression, often called the "Parkinson's mask."

Difficulty in gait and balance

A person with this disease is likely to walk with small steps, with their feet together, bend slightly forward at the waist and have trouble turning around. Balance and posture problems can cause frequent falls. However, these problems generally do not appear more advanced disease.

Freezing motion

It is a sudden but brief inability to move. It most often affects walking. After a while it disappears.


It is a state in which the patient's handwriting is becoming smaller and illegible.

Non-motor symptoms

Depression and anxiety

Depression can be caused by the disease or by a reaction to it. Some patients become depressed when they are diagnosed. Signs of depression include alterations of sleep, memory, appetite, interest in social or sexual life, loss of energy or motivation for certain things and a negative self-concept. The patient has a hard time accepting his condition and is angry about his limitations.

Anxiety appears before any stressful situation, for not being able to perform the daily tasks to which I was accustomed. Anxiety can even lead to increased instability, shortness of breath and excessive sweating. To prevent this from happening, relaxation techniques are helpful.

Cognitive disorders

Among cognitive disorders usually appear difficulties in concentration, memory, slowed thinking, the ability to plan complex tasks or to perform several tasks at once.

Sleep disorders

Sleep difficulties are due to the anxiety, pain or muscle stiffness. It is essential that the patient sleep well and take a good rest because restful sleep decreases the parkinsonian symptomatic effects. Tiredness is a state of physical and mental exhaustion very common in Parkinsonian patients. It can be a consequence of medications, depression or the extra effort necessary to perform daily tasks and face the symptoms of the disease. This can be improved with proper medication if the cause that causes it is identified.

Sensory disorders and pain

Sometimes patients report leg pain from cramping, cold, burning or feeling of numbness and headache (headache) or waist pain (lower back).


It is the loss or decrease of the sense of smell.


The confusion and hallucinations that may appear are side effects of parkinsonian medication and not of the disease itself.

A small number of people have symptoms on only one side of the body, and never progress to the other side.

Stages of Parkinson's Disease

Stage one

During this initial stage, the person has mild symptoms that generally do not interfere with your daily activities. Tremor and other movement symptoms may appear on one side of the body only. Friends and family can notice changes in posture, walking and facial expressions.

Second stage

In the second stage of Parkinson's, the symptoms begin to get worse. Tremor, stiffness and other movement symptoms affect both sides of the body. Problems with walking appear and poor posture can become evident. At this stage, the person is still able to live alone, but performing daily tasks becomes more difficult and may take longer.

Third stage

Stage three is considered the intermediate stage in the progression of the disease. Loss of balance and slow movements are characteristic of this phase.. Falls are more common. Although the person remains totally independent, the symptoms significantly alter the activities of their daily lives, such as dressing and eating.

Fourth stage

During this stage of Parkinson, the symptoms are already severe and very limiting. They can stand up without help, but to move they need someone to help them or a walker. The person needs help with activities of daily living and is not able to live alone.

Fifth stage

This is the most advanced and debilitating stage of Parkinson's disease. Stiffness in the legs can make it impossible to stand or walk. The person requires a wheelchair or be bedridden. Permanent attention is required for all activities. The person may even experience hallucinations and delusions. While the fifth stage focuses on motor symptoms, there are many important non-motor symptoms as well.

Parkinson's disease treatment

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease. Currently, the treatment can be of three types (although combinations are viable): pharmacological, surgical and rehabilitative.

The drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease are called anti-parkinsonian drugs, which try to temporarily restore dopamine in the brain or, mimic the actions of dopamine.

However, none of the drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease acts on the progression of the disease. Currently, the most commonly used drugs are levodopa and several dopamine agonists, although others such as selegiline (MAO-B inhibitor), amantadine (dopamine releasing) or benzatropin (muscarinic receptor antagonist of acetylcholine)

As the disease progresses and neurons continue to lose, these medications become less effective, while at the same time producing side effects such as involuntary twisting movements.

The diet and some forms of rehabilitation They have shown some efficacy in the improvement of symptoms.

Years ago it began to be used surgery to place microelectrodes to achieve deep brain stimulation and thus try to reduce motor symptoms in the most severe cases, when medications were ineffective. But the problem was that surgery was not always successful and serious complications were not uncommon.

The emotional containment of the people surrounding the patient It is essential and a key component in Parkinson's care because it provides numerous benefits.

As it is a progressive disorder the symptoms gradually get worse over time. In general, the symptoms are aggravated by stress and emotional situations that cause anxiety. The psychological part is very important. Symptoms usually improve with rest, sleep and relaxation technique or any strategy to control stress and anxiety are used.

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