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Parkinson's Disease

What causes Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that develops when the nerves in a specific area of your brain deteriorate and die. The affected nerves produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which regulates movement. As the nerves degenerate, dopamine levels fall, and your ability to move is affected.

What are the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease causes four primary symptoms:

  • Tremor (uncontrollable shaking)
  • Rigidity (muscle stiffness)
  • Postural instability (loss of balance)
  • Bradykinesia (slow movement)

The tremors associated with Parkinson’s usually begin in your hands but can also affect your face, jaw, arms, and legs. Most people find that their tremors appear when resting, then improve when they use the affected body part.

What progressive symptoms occur due to Parkinson’s disease?

As Parkinson’s progresses, you gradually develop other motor (muscle) and non-motor symptoms. You may:

  • Drag your foot when walking
  • Take shorter steps when walking
  • Develop a stooped posture
  • Have a hard time with handwriting
  • Have difficulty swallowing
  • Experience changes in your speech
  • Speak with a softer or flat voice
  • Lose facial expressions
  • Suffer memory loss (Parkinson’s dementia)
  • Hallucinate or have delusions

You may also lose your sense of smell, have constipation, or develop insomnia.

How is Parkinson’s disease treated?

Your provider at Ventura Neuroscience Center takes an integrative approach, developing a treatment plan that improves your movement, eases symptoms, and supports the best possible lifestyle.

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease includes:

  • Medications - Medications form the foundation of your treatment. Your provider prescribes medications that replace, boost, or mimic the effect of dopamine. You may also need medications that target specific symptoms, such as tremors. You may be able to maintain your quality of life with medications. But if you develop side effects or you reach a stage where medications no longer help, your provider talks with you about surgery.
  • Surgery - Surgery for Parkinson’s disease targets the structures in your brain that control movement. Your provider may perform deep brain stimulation, a procedure in which they implant an electrode into the targeted area.

After you have deep brain stimulation, the electrode sends out electrical impulses that control the nerve activity in your brain. As a result, your tremors improve.