Parkinson's disease is a progressive neuro-degenerative disorder that affects movement of the limbs and facial muscles. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neuro-degenerative disorder, after Alzheimer's disease, primarily affecting the elderly. It usually affects patients above 60 years but can involve younger patients. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement and takes years to develop into a full-fledged illness. The brain over time slowly stops producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. As a result, the patient slowly loses the ability to regulate movements and emotions.
In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, there may be just an expressionless face, the arms do not swing when walking, speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen with time.
Signs of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson's disease symptoms and signs may vary from person to person. Early signs may be mild and go unnoticed. Symptoms often begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.
- Tremors: usually begin in the limbs, often the hand or fingers and happen when at rest
- Slowing of movement: gradually occurs over time, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming
- Rigidity of muscles: can limit the range of motion and cause pain
- Stooped posture and impaired imbalance
- Loss of automatic movement: There may be decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging arms while walking.
- Speech changes: slurred or monotonous speech
- Writing changes: writing may appear small and slowly become illegible
- Shuffling gait