Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain cells that control muscle movement. Parkinson’s disease causes these brain cells to become damaged or die. The disease is not yet curable, but symptoms can be treated, and quality of life can be improved.
Trusted neurological and neurosurgical care for Parkinson’s disease is available in Arizona at Dignity Health. Our Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s location has been named a top neurological hospital by US News and World Report.
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Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary. They may be very subtle and easy to miss in the early stages. The most common signs and symptoms are:
- Stiff face, almost mask-like, with less blinking or smiling
- Quieter voice
- Difficulty speaking
- Tremor or shaking, even at rest, starting with the fingers or hand
- Changes in handwriting, with letters that are smaller and more tightly formed
- Slow walking or other movement
- Stiff, rigid muscles
- Stooped posture
- Difficulty with balance
- Loss of smell
- Difficulty concentrating and memory loss
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
Researchers do not yet know what causes Parkinson’s disease specifically. However, it involves the loss of the neurotransmitter dopamine in critical areas of the brain. Experts have identified these risk factors:
- Environmental toxins, such as some insecticides
- Head trauma
- Family history of Parkinson’s disease
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease at Dignity Health
There is not yet a cure for Parkinson’s disease, so treatment is focused on relieving symptoms and maintaining quality of life. Treatments options are:
- Exercise: Exercise, including dancing, provides positive benefits, such as flexibility and strength, to people who have Parkinson’s disease. Some research suggests that regular exercise may help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
- Medications. Different classes of drugs may help relieve or lessen tremors and make it easier to control muscle movement. These include levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet), ropinirole (Requip), and amantadine (Symmetrel).
- Deep brain stimulation. Electrodes are surgically implanted into the brain to receive electrical impulses from a stimulator device. The method may help control involuntary movements and relieve muscle rigidity. Deep brain stimulation is usually only recommended when medications do not improve symptoms.
Dignity Health provides leading Parkinson’s disease treatment in Arizona.