Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and debilitating medical condition, characterized by its significant effects on the central nervous system. Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, but those who are diagnosed early can benefit from quick intervention, allowing them to enjoy a better quality of life.
Read on to find out about the most common early signs of Parkinson’s disease:
1. Noticeably rigid muscles and stiffness
A rigidity within the muscles, as well as considerable muscle stiffness, can often be an early warning sign of Parkinson’s disease. This rigidity can affect both or just one side of the body. A patient might notice a decreased range of movement, muscle soreness, or a feeling of tightness along the affected side of the body.
2. Slower movement and decreased mobility
As a result of stiff muscles, decreased mobility is often experienced by those with Parkinson’s disease. In earlier stages of the disease, these symptoms might present as simply slowness. However, as the disease progresses, this could hinder their ability to walk at a natural speed or perform daily tasks like cooking or cleaning. As a result of these difficulties, a Parkinson’s patient might no longer be able to live alone.
3. Developing tremors
Another of the first noticeable signs of Parkinson’s disease is the appearance of tremors, or uncontrollable shaking, primarily in the hands, arms, feet and legs. Some facial tremors can also appear along the jawline. These tremors significantly impact fine motor coordination, and can interfere with daily life and activities. It should also be noted that uncontrollable movements may also be one of the side effects of Parkinson’s medications.
4. Decreased facial expression
Muscle stiffness and rigidity can also significantly alter an individual’s ability to express themselves, therefore they often present with seemingly less emotion. This is also known as “facial masking”, and it occurs when a patient loses some of their ability to control the muscles of their face. If an individual is experiencing an absence of appropriate facial expression, it may indicate they are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
5. Absence of natural arm swing when walking
Because Parkinson’s disease causes muscle rigidity and decreased mobility, patients who are diagnosed with this condition are often unable to swing their arms naturally as they walk. Their reduced arm swing is most apparent on the side of the body which is most affected by rigidity. Because natural movement of the arms is necessary to maintain balance, this absence of natural arm movement may make them more prone to falls.
Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are a number of highly effective medications which can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life. Being able to recognize these early signs and symptoms is crucial in developing the right Parkinson’s treatment plan for each patient.