Causes and Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

Our Brain Cells

In an area of your brain called the substantia nigra, cells that make the chemical dopamine start to die. Dopamine has an important job to do. It acts like a messenger that tells another area of your brain when you want to move a part of your body. 


When the cells that make dopamine start to die, your dopamine level drops. When it gets too low, you can't control your movements as well and you start to get Parkinson's symptoms. No one knows what triggers the death of those cells. Scientists think it's your genes and environment working off of each other in a way we don't understand.


Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that progresses slowly. Some people will first notice a sense of weakness, difficulty walking, and stiff muscles. Others may notice a tremor of the head or hands. Parkinson's is a progressive disorder and the symptoms gradually worsen. 


The general symptoms of Parkinson's disease include:  

  • Slowness of voluntary movements, especially in the initiation of such movements as walking or rolling over in bed
  • Decreased facial expression, monotonous speech, and decreased eyeblinking
  • A shuffling gait with poor arm swing and stooped posture
  • Unsteady balance; difficulty rising from a sitting position
  • Continuous "pill-rolling" motion of the thumb and forefinger
  • Abnormal tone or stiffness in the trunk and extremities
  • Swallowing problems in later stages
  • Lightheadedness or fainting when standing (orthostatic hypotension) 

Parkinson’s disease may be something you don’t notice suddenly. Early symptoms can be mild. You may feel tired or uneasy. You may notice your hands or other body parts shaking slightly, or find it hard to stand. Your speech might become softer or slurred, or your handwriting looks different or smaller. You may forget a word or a thought and feel depressed or anxious. Usually, your friends and family may spot the changes before you do. It might be easier for them to notice your tremors, stiff movements, or lack of expression on your face.


As your symptoms grow, you might have trouble with everyday activities. But most people with Parkinson's can manage the condition, often with medications.


Stiff muscles. Most people with Parkinson’s have some rigidness that makes it hard to move parts of the body. That’s because your muscles can’t relax normally. This may also cause you pain. 

 

Tremor. This uncontrolled shaking usually starts in the hands and arms, although it can happen in the jaw or feet, too. You often notice your thumb and forefinger rubbing together, especially when you’re resting your handor feeling stressed. In the beginning, tremor usually affects only one side of your body or one limb. Over time, the shaking may spread to other parts of your body, although not everyone gets tremor.


Slow movements. Actions like walking, getting out of bed, and even talking become harder and slower. Doctors call this bradykinesia. It happens because your brain’s signal to specific parts of the body slows down. Bradykinesia can give your face an expressionless, mask-like look.


Changes in walking. A common early sign is that your arm or arms stop swinging naturally when you walk. Your steps might become short and shuffling. You may have trouble walking around corners, or feel as if your feet are glued to the floor.


Seek Help: 

There are many antidepressant medications, and each has pros and cons. Which one your doctor suggests depends on your overall condition and specific needs.

Most people should not take amoxapine (Asendin) because it could temporarily make Parkinson's symptoms worse. Psychological therapy can help you rebuild your sense of self-worth. It also can help you keep up good relationships with your caregivers and family members.


AT HCS, our professional team will work with you on coping skills, motion improvement strategies, physiotherapy and counselling services to improve your state of mind and overall wellness.