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Unveiling the Early Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease | Max Hospital

What is Parkinson's Disease: Understanding Early Signs & Symptoms

By Dr. Rajesh Gupta in Neurology

Apr 17 , 2024 | 2 min read

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative condition affecting millions worldwide. While there is no cure currently, early detection is needed to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected. Recognising the signs of Parkinson's in its early stages can lead to timely intervention and treatment. In this blog post, we'll delve into the subtle yet significant symptoms that may indicate the onset of Parkinson's disease.

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's is a progressive condition of the nervous system that affects movement. It occurs when nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die. These neurons produce dopamine, a chemical messenger vital to smooth, coordinated muscle movement.

As dopamine levels decrease, individuals with Parkinson's experience a range of symptoms, including tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. However, Parkinson's is more than just a movement disorder; it can also affect mood, cognition, and other bodily functions.

Early Signs to Watch For

  1. Tremors: One of the hallmark signs of Parkinson's disease is tremors. These tremors often begin in a limb, most commonly in the hand or fingers. They usually appear while the individual rests and may decrease or disappear with purposeful movement. While tremors can be caused by other conditions, Parkinson's tremors are typically more pronounced. Tremor is often the first symptom noticed by patients and clinicians, with up to 70% of patients presenting with this symptom initially.
  1. Bradykinesia (Slowed Movement): Individuals with Parkinson's may notice a gradual slowing of movement over time. Simple tasks that were once easy, such as buttoning a shirt or brushing your teeth, become more difficult and take longer to complete. Bradykinesia is a cardinal feature of Parkinson's, often leading to functional impairment in daily activities.
  1. Muscle Stiffness: Parkinson's can cause muscles to become stiff and rigid, making it challenging to move freely. This stiffness, known as rigidity, can occur in any part of the body and may be particularly noticeable when trying to move a limb.
  1. Postural Instability: Individuals can find it hard to maintain balance while standing or walking, thus increasing the risk of falls.
  1. Changes in Handwriting: Parkinson's can cause handwriting to become smaller and more cramped, a condition known as micrographia. This change may be subtle but becomes more apparent over time.

Read More: Is There Any Treatment Available for Parkinson's Disease?

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these early signs, it is essential to consult a doctor for a thorough evaluation. While these symptoms can be indicative of Parkinson's, they can also result from other conditions. A neurologist specialising in movement disorders is typically the best professional to diagnose Parkinson's disease.

Remember, each person's experience with Parkinson's is unique, and symptoms can vary widely. By staying informed and proactive, individuals and their caregivers can navigate the challenges of Parkinson's disease with greater understanding and preparedness.