Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder that primarily impairs a patient’s motor skills, speech, and facial expressions. The Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that 50,000-60,000 new cases of PD are diagnosed each year, adding to the one million who currently live with PD and the thousands of cases that go undetected. PD can have a dramatic impact on quality of life, as daily activities such as feeding, drinking, grooming, and writing become difficult if not impossible.
Early symptoms are subtle and occur gradually. Primary symptoms of PD include:
- Muscle rigidity or stiffness
- Tremor, often in the hands and legs
- Bradykinesia, which can cause slow movement or difficulty moving
- Poor balance or posture instability
- Difficulty walking
There are several risk factors for developing PD, including:
- Age. Parkinson’s disease affects one in 100 people over age 60. However, while it is more common in older people, people as young as 18 have been diagnosed with PD.
- Family History. Having a relative who also suffers from PD may increase your chances of developing the disease. However, the risk is very small unless multiple family members suffer from it.
- Sex. Parkinson’s disease is more common in men than women.
How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed and treated?
There is no definitive test for Parkinson’s disease; rather, your doctor will diagnose the disease by reviewing your symptoms, medical history, and family history, and by performing a neurological and physical examination. Your doctor may also request a blood test or imaging tests such as an MRI or PET scan to rule out any other possible disorders or conditions causing your symptoms.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are medical and non-medical interventions that can help patients manage their symptoms:
- Medication. Medication can dramatically improve one’s symptoms. However, as PD progresses, medication dosages may be increased, which can cause dyskinesias, which are uncontrolled, writhing movements.
- Physical therapy. Your doctor may recommend you see a physical therapist to assist you with strengthening and balance exercises.
- Speech-language therapy. Speech-language pathologists can help patients manage speech and voice disorders, common outcomes of Parkinson’s disease.
- Deep brain stimulation. PD patients who require high or frequent doses of dopamine and who also experience side effects of their medication are ideal candidates for deep brain stimulation, a minimally invasive surgical treatment often used on those movement disorders.
Why Choose NGPG?
NGPG Neuroscience employs a team of board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurointerventional surgeons, neuropsychiatrists, and other specialists who provide high-quality care and up-to-date treatments through our two outpatient Neurology office locations. We offer imaging and surgical care at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s state-of-the-art facilities, ensuring our patients’ access to all the services of a leading hospital alongside our excellent outpatient care.
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