Parkinson’s Disease: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Symptoms are initially mild, even if they develop suddenly, and typically affect one side of the body at first. In Parkinsons disease, freezing of gait is characterized by hesitation before stepping forward, or a feeling like your feet have frozen to the floor. Frozen gait usually only lasts for a step or two, but you will need to be careful when crossing busy streets and try to minimize your risk of falling wherever possible.

You may find that tremors make you more susceptible to accidents such as tripping, falling or spilling hot liquids so you must take care and ask for the help and support you need. In Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in the brain become damaged and active start to die. Generally speaking, it’s believed to develop due to a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) that affects movement.


Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Deep brain stimulation is another treatment that’s occasionally official statement used for PD. It’s a highly specialized type of brain surgery that’s only recommended in certain situations. About 10% of cases are genetic, meaning you inherit them from one or both parents.

Patients do best by working closely with a care team that can design a custom treatment plan. People with Parkinson’s disease often develop a parkinsonian gait that includes a tendency to lean forward; take small, quick steps; and reduce swinging their arms. Exercise—Exercise routines are often recommended to help individuals with PD maintain movement and balance necessary for everyday living. Research continues on the role of exercise in slowing the decline of motor function and modifying the course of PD.

In Lewy body dementia Dementia With Lewy Bodies and Parkinson Disease Dementia Dementia with Lewy bodies is progressive loss of mental function characterized by the development of Lewy bodies in nerve cells. Parkinson disease dementia is loss of mental function characterized… Read more , Lewy bodies form throughout the outer layer of the brain (cerebral cortex). Read more , possibly explaining why about one third of people with Parkinson disease have symptoms of Alzheimer disease and why some people with Alzheimer disease develop parkinsonian symptoms. Certain antipsychotic drugs—quetiapine, clozapine, or pimavanserin—are sometimes used to treat psychotic symptoms in older people with Parkinson disease and dementia. These drugs, unlike other antipsychotics, do not worsen the symptoms of Parkinson disease.

These symptoms are caused by dysfunction in the neurons that control movement. These densely packed nerve endings in the brain and throughout the body send and receive chemical signals relating to movement. reference In Parkinsons, these neurons lose their ability to produce dopamine, a chemical messenger essential to transmitting these signals. This leads to random firing of the neurons and compromised movement.

Carbidopa is given with levodopa to prevent levodopa from being converted to dopamine before it reaches the basal ganglia. As a result, there are fewer side effects, and more dopamine is available to the brain. Deep brain stimulation, a surgical procedure, is considered if people have advanced disease but no dementia nor psychiatric symptoms and drugs are ineffective or have severe side effects. The drugs used to treat Parkinson disease can have troublesome side effects. If people notice any unusual effects (such as difficulty controlling urges or confusion), they should report them to their doctor. They should not stop taking a drug unless their doctor tells them to.

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