Parkinson’s disease has four symptoms relating to motor function. They are balance instability, tremors while the body is resting, rigidity and uncontrollable twitches or movements. There are other secondary symptoms that a doctor will recognize but some people react differently than others so their symptoms will be different. Some have primary symptoms but may only have trouble with balance and will not have tremors. In some patients, the disease will progress at a slower rate than others.
Primary motor symptoms include a symptom called resting tremors. More than 70 percent of Parkinson’s patients will exhibit these tremors in the early stages of their disease. The tremor usually appears in a hand or foot on only one side of the body. Sometimes it will be noticed in the face or jaw but that is less common. The tremors appear as a beating tremor and appear when the muscles are relaxed. The body part affected will have a tremor when it is not doing any work. It most cases, the tremors will spread to the other side of the body but will be more noticeable on the original side the tremors began on.
The second symptom that involves the primary motor system is slow movement. This is called bradykinesia and the patient experiences slowing of movements and will have difficulty in starting a movement. It may feel their feet are stuck to the ground, or they will have problems with stopping movement that has already started. It causes the patient to walk with a shuffling and shorter step than normal. Bradykinesia can occur in the facial muscles and the patients face will not be able to reflect the range of emotions it is feeling. This gives the person a mask-like appearance and can be alarming.
A person with Parkinson’s disease may have a problem with balance and coordination. This increases the risk of falling for Parkinson’s patients and combined with rigidity makes it harder to remain balanced. The person may not be able to take that first step, and have trouble with eating, speaking and swallowing. Balance can be improved by using yoga postures while doing breathing exercises and meditating.
Fourth and last of the four main motor symptoms is rigidity. It means the body and muscles in the body are unable to stretch normally when they move. It also means the muscles cannot relax when they are not working. The muscle tone weakens and the affected body part becomes stiff and will not relax. This causes a problem when walking because the natural flow of the arms swinging by the side is restricted. Rigidity can cause some severe cramping and related pains in the muscles and affected limbs.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms it is time to speak to your doctor. Your doctor will take your medical history and give you simple tasks to perform to see how well you can complete them. They may also want you to walk and speak to discover if Parkinson’s disease is the correct diagnosis. If that is what is decided, there are proven methods of treating it although as of yet, there is no cure.