Dr Ankur Gupta
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder. The first signs are problems with movement.
Smooth and coordinated bodily muscle movements are made possible by dopamine, a substance in the brain. Dopamine is produced in a part of the brain called the “substantia nigra.”
In Parkinson’s, the cells of the substantia nigra start to die. When this happens, dopamine levels are reduced. When they have dropped 60 to 80 percent, symptoms of Parkinson’s start to appear.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Some of the early symptoms of Parkinson’s can begin several years before motor problems develop. These earliest signs include: decreased ability to smell (anosmia) constipation, small, cramped handwriting, voice changes, stooped posture
The four major motor problems seen are shaking that occurs at rest, slow movements, stiffness of arms, legs, and trunk, problems with balance and tendency to fall.
Secondary symptoms include:
Blank facial expression a tendency to get stuck when walking muffled, low-volume speech, decreased blinking and swallowing, tendency to fall backward, reduced arm swinging when walking. Parkinsonian gait, which is the tendency to take shuffling steps while walking
Other associated symptoms may include:
flaky white or yellow scales on oily parts of the skin, known as seborrheic dermatitis increased risk of melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer sleep disturbances including vivid dreams, talking, and movement during sleep, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, psychosis, problems with attention and memory, difficulty with visual-spatial relationships.
Early signs of Parkinson’s disease may go unrecognized. Your body may try to alert you to the movement disorder many years before movement difficulties begin with these warning signs.
Causes of Parkinson’s disease
The exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown. It may have both genetic and environmental components. Some scientists believe that viruses can trigger Parkinson’s as well.
Low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, a substance that regulates dopamine, have been linked with Parkinson’s.
Abnormal proteins called Lewy bodies have also been found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s. Scientists do not know what role, if any, Lewy bodies play in the development of Parkinson’s.
While there’s no known cause, research has identified groups of people who are more likely to develop the condition, which include:
Sex: Men are one and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women.
Race: According to research, there’s a higher prevalence of Parkinson’s in white people compared with Black or Asian people. Geographic location may be one reason for a higher risk.
Age: Parkinson’s usually appears between ages 50 and 60 years. It only occurs before 40 years old in about four percent of cases.
Family history: People who have close family members with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Toxins: Exposure to certain toxins may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Head injury: People who experience head injuries may be more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Each year, researchers are trying to understand why people develop Parkinson’s. Learn more about what’s been discovered and what’s known about Parkinson’s risk factors.
Treatments for Parkinson’s disease
Treatment for Parkinson’s relies on a combination of: lifestyle changes, Physiotherapy, Acupressure Therapy Massage Therapy, Medications Therapies
Adequate rest, exercise, and a balanced diet are important. Speech therapy, and Physical Therapy can also help improve communication and self-care.
Surgical interventions are reserved for people who do not respond to medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Two primary types of surgery are used to treat Parkinson’s:
Deep brain stimulation
During deep brain stimulation (DBS), surgeons implant electrodes in specific parts of the brain. A generator connected to the electrodes sends out pulses to help reduce symptoms.
Massage and Acupressure Therapy for Parkinson’s
While data analyzing the role of acupressure in treatment of PD symptoms is fairly limited, the data on the role of massage in the treatment of PD symptoms is even more so. One clinical trial was done assessing the effects of a 40-minutes Acupressure And Massage session, with some participants then continuing to receive daily sessions. The control group was not blinded to their status (that is, they did not receive a sham procedure and therefore were aware that they were in the control group). Despite these limitations, the study showed that acupressure massage was helpful in improving quality of life for people with Parkinson Deseases.
(The author is (PT) physio & Acupressure Therapist
Dr Ankur Gupta