Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive motor system disorder that occurs when vital nerve cells in the brain called neurons malfunction and die. Some of the affected neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of your brain that controls movement and coordination. The amount of dopamine in the brain decreases as Parkinson’s progresses, leaving patients unable to control movement.
Because Parkinson’s disease develops gradually, it often starts as a barely noticeable tremor in one hand, or a constant lack of facial expression. Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, but there are a variety of medications and treatments that can significantly improve its symptoms and quality of life.
Although the signs of Parkinson’s vary from person-to-person, the disorder has four key motor symptoms, including:
Patients with Parkinson’s disease may also be affected by a range of other symptoms, such as:
As with many complex neurological conditions, the exact cause of Parkinson’s is not yet fully known. What researchers do know, however, is that a variety of factors appear to play a role in its development, including:
Although Parkinson’s disease isn’t inherited directly, scientists have discovered several genes that can lead to the disease in a small percentage of the population, but these genes are rare in the larger population. In general, however, having a parent with Parkinson’s does slightly increase your chances of developing the disease.
Although the risk is small, it’s possible that early exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors can increase your chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers are currently focused on brain changes that occur in people with Parkinson’s, including the increased presence and quality of Lewy bodies, a microscopic marker of the disease.
Although Parkinson’s can’t be cured, its symptoms can often be dramatically controlled with medications, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy. Parkinson’s medications increase or substitute for dopamine, which helps manage tremors, restore movement control, and help patients walk normally.
As time goes on, the effects of these medications may decline or become less consistent. When that happens, deep brain stimulation or another surgical option may be the best way to alleviate symptoms.
Advanced Therapie include long acting medications, injetable medicines, dopamine gel infused through the stomach via a pump and Deep Brain Stimulation.