Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a growing disorder that is produced by degeneration of nerve cells in the portion of the brain termed as substantia nigra, which regulates movement. These nerve cells die or get impaired, losing the capacity to produce an essential chemical called dopamine. Investigations have revealed that symptoms of Parkinson’s begin in patients with an 80 percent or higher loss of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra.

Dopamine functions in a delicate balance with other neurotransmitters is found to be helpful to regulate the millions of nerve and muscle cells involved in the movement. Without enough dopamine, this equilibrium is interrupted, resulting in trembling in the hands, arms, legs, and jaw. The rigidity of stiffness of the limbs, slowness of movement and impaired balance are some common symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Some other symptoms include

  • Weakness of spontaneous movements, especially in the initiation of such movements as walking or rolling over in bed
  • Reduced facial expression, monotonous speech, and reduced eye blinking
  • A shuffling step with poor arm swing and stooped posture
  • difficulty rising from a sitting position
  • Constant  motion of the thumb and forefinger
  • Unusual tone or stiffness in the trunk and extremities
  • Swallowing difficulties in later stages

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s is essentially based on the common symptoms as mentioned above. Noninvasive diagnostic imaging, such as positron emission tomography (PET) can help a doctor’s diagnosis.

Traditional methods for investigation include:

The appearance of two of the three primary symptoms

The deficiency of other neurological signs upon examination

Response to Parkinson’s medications, such as levodopa