Answers to Common Movement Disorder Questions

Premier Physician Network doctors answer frequently asked questions about movement disorders.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, and trouble with walking, balance, and coordination, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

About half a million people in the United States are reported to be affected by Parkinson’s, but it’s possible that the numbers are much higher, according to NIH. 

The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

  • Bradykinesia – slowness of movement
  • Postural instability – impaired balance
  • Rigidity – stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Tremor – trembling in the arms, hands, head, jaw, and legs

The symptoms of Parkinson’s typically start out gradually and get worse over time, according to the NIH. Severe symptoms can cause difficulty walking and talking, and possibly also sleep problems, depression, memory trouble, and fatigue.

It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer’s, and there is no cure, according to the NIH.

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Who is at risk for developing Parkinson’s disease?

People who are 60 and older and women are more likely than others to develop Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon(NIH).

People are also at increased risk if they have some specific issues associated with Parkinson’s disease, according to the NIH, including:

  • A build-up of harmful proteins
  • A shortage of dopamine
  • Genetic mutations
  • Environmental toxins
  • Loss of norepinephrine

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What are treatment options for Parkinson’s disease?

Though Parkinson’s disease does not have a cure, there are treatments, therapies, and lifestyle changes that can help with some of the symptoms.

One treatment for Parkinson’s disease is called deep brain stimulation (DBS). It’s a surgical procedure used to treat the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon(NIH).

With the surgery, an electrode is surgically implanted into the brain. It is connected to a wire implanted under the skin that connects to another implant in the chest, called a pulse generator, according to the NIH.

The system stimulates the brain to help stop Parkinson’s symptoms including tremor, bradykinesia, and rigidity, according to the NIH.

There is no scientific proof that specific changes in diet or exercise will improve Parkinson’s symptoms, according to the NIH. But, eating a healthy diet and being active will help improve a person’s overall well-being, including emotional well-being.

Physical, occupational, and speech therapies can all help with symptoms of Parkinson’s, according to the NIH. Some other therapies, including yoga, massage therapy, dancing, boxing, tai chi, hypnosis, and acupuncture all have shown some benefits from Parkinson’s symptoms but do not help slow the disease.

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Thanks to these Premier Physician Network’s doctors for answering these common questions about the brain and memory:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

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