Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

April 02, 2022
Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

Parkinson's Disease Symptoms:

Parkinson's Disease symptoms, like the disease itself, can be subtle or obvious.  Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra.  Parkinson's Disease symptoms usually develop slowly and many people have symptoms for several years before being diagnosed. The progression of symptoms is different from one person to another and include motor and non-motor manifestations.

Parkinson's Disease Motor Symptoms:

Resting Tremor:  Resting tremor occurs when the muscles are relaxed.  A person's hands, arms, or legs shake when they are at rest.  Sometimes the shaking will stop shaking when a person actively reaches or moves.  Resting tremor often only affects the hand or fingers, but can affect the whole arm or leg.   "Pillrolling" is a form of resting tremor in which the tremor manifests circular finger and hand movements that resemble rolling of small objects or pills in the hand.

Rigidity:  Rigidity is experienced as a "stiffness" or "tightness" of the arms or legs.  It is beyond what would result from normal aging or arthritis. Rigidity can occur on one or both sides of the body.  It can contribute to decreased range of motion, reduced arm swing when walking, or facial masking - stiffness of the facial muscles.

Bradykinesia:  Bradykinesia is slowness of movement that happens in different ways.  When the "Get Ready" signal from the brain to the muscles is slowed, it results in difficulty with initiating movements, like getting up out of a chair or automatic movements like blinking or swinging your arms when you walk.  When the "Go" signal is slowed, it results in general slowness, freezing, or start hesitation in physical actions.  When the "No Go" signal is slowed, it results in inadequate completion of movement or festination - the inability to stop repetitive movements

Hypokinesia:  Hypokinesia is the reduced amplitude of movement.  It results in progressive loss of loudness of speech (hypophonia), progressive loss of amplitude of handwriting (micrographia), and progressive shortening of stride length and arm swing during walking.

Dystonia:  Dystonia is a sustained muscle spasm or cramp that can include repetitive muscle twisting.  It can be very painful and can occur at different times of day.

Postural instability:  Postural instability is the inability to maintain balance when sitting, standing or moving.  Tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, hypokinesia and dystonia all contribute to postural instability.

Non-Motor Symptoms

Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease are the "invisible" symptoms that are felt but can't be seen. They are often just as challenging, if not moreso, than motor symptoms.  The autonomic system controls bodily functions that are "automatic" or not consciously directed.  Parkinson's Disease affects many of the autonomic systems in the body and this, in turn, results in many non-motor symptoms:

Cardiovascular Issues:  Cardiovascular issues can occur include Hypotension (low blood pressure) and Orthostatic Hypotension (a sudden drop in blood pressure when moving from lying down to sitting or sitting to standing).  Hypotension and orthostatic hypotension can contribute to Vertigo and Dizziness

Breathing and Respiratory Issues: Some people with Parkinson's Disease experience Shortness of Breath with no underlying respiratory dysfunction.

Digestive Issues: Digestive issues can include Constipation, Nausea and Urinary Incontinence, and difficulty with swallowing or Dysphagia.

Vision Issues: Dry Eyes, Double Vision and Blurry Vision are visual changes that can occur.

Sensory Issues:  Pain, Tingling, and Burning are sensory issues that can occur.

Sleep Issues: Sleep issues can include difficulty falling and staying asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and vivid dreaming

Emotional Changes:  Parkinson's Disease takes an emotional toll on patients and caregivers.  25% of people with Parkinson's Disease have major DepressionAnxiety and Apathy are common emotional changes as well.

Cognitive Changes:  As Parkinson's Disease progresses, patient's often experience a loss of higher Cognitive Functions.  Symptoms include decreased ability to shift cognitive set, slow thinking, slow retrieval, difficulty sustaining attention.  Additionally, 30% of people with Parkinson's Disease develop dementia.

Outpatient Therapy for Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

Although outpatient therapy cannot eliminate Parkinson's Disease symptoms, teaming with an experienced therapist can help minimize the dysfunction they cause.  Our therapists can help you develop programs to maximize your function and to identify adaptive equipment and strategies to cope more effectively.  Want to function better despite Parkinson's Disease symptoms?  Give us a call today!