Parkinson’s disease is the second commonest neurodegenerative disorder. It is also the most common movement disorder. It is a long-term disease that affects the central nervous system and mostly affects the motor system (movements). The onset is gradual where the symptoms begin and progress slowly over time. While the cause of Parkinson’s disease is yet to be known, many believe that both genetics and environmental factors are involved. Risk factors include a positive family history, exposure to certain pesticides, and history of head injuries. However, it has been observed that the risk of Parkinson’s disease is lower among smokers and those who drink coffee or tea. The affected motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease are due to the death of cells in the substantia nigra (a specific part in the midbrain) leading to low levels of dopamine in these areas.
While the cause of cell death is poorly understood, the build up of proteins into Lewy bodies are observed in the neurons. The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is achieved based on symptoms and tests such as medical imaging of the brain to rule out other causes. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, the treatment and management of this disorder involves the control and improvement of symptoms using anti-Parkinson medication levodopa and dopamine agonists. Medications gradually become less effective as the disease progresses. Other methods that may help include having a better diet, rehabilitation, and surgery to place microelectrodes for deep brain stimulation. In 2015, 6.2 million individuals were affected and resulted in 117,400 deaths globally. It most commonly affects men above the age of 60.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptom #1: Tremors
One of the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is tremors. These tremors can be described as a slight tremor or shaking in the finger, thumb, chin, or hand. This tremor usually occurs at rest. Some have described it as “pill-rolling” tremor where the index finger tends to touch the thumb and result in a circular movement.
The term is derived from the similarity of movement in the early pharmaceutical technique of making pills manually. The tremor disappears when the affected individual moves voluntarily or during movement. It mostly begins in one hand and eventually affects both as the disease progresses.