advertisement
Updated 15 February 2016

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is when certain nerve cells become impaired.

1

Description

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson's and related disorders are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals within the brain.

Parkinson's disease occurs when certain nerve cells, or neurons, die or become impaired. Normally, these neurons produce dopamine.

Loss of dopamine causes the nerve cells to fire out of control, leaving patients unable to direct or control their movement in a normal manner.

Symptoms

The four primary symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement and postural instability or impaired balance and coordination.

Patients may also have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. The disease is both chronic and progressive. Parkinson's is not usually inherited. Early symptoms are subtle and occur gradually.

Treatment

A variety of medications provide dramatic relief from the symptoms, but no drug can stop the progression of the disease. In some cases, surgery is an appropriate treatment. Some doctors recommend physical therapy or muscle-strengthening exercises.

Reviewed by Dr Andrew Rose-Innes, MD, Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven.

 
More in Medical
Acne
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Coffee and wine for the win! »

Could heartburn drugs upset your 'good' gut bacteria? Life is a gut reaction

Good news! Coffee & wine may promote a healthy gut

Diverse bacteria help your gut stay healthy. Here's how what you eat and drink can help or harm that balance - and it's not all bad news.

I gave hubby HIV »

Giving babies antibodies promptly may eliminate HIV Vaginal ring to prevent HIV on the cards

I gave my husband HIV and watched him die

Stephanie van Niekerk unwittingly infected her husband with HIV and ended up having to watch him wither and die in front of her very eyes. This is Stephanie's story in her own words.