11 Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating motor condition with no known cause or cure. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, seven to ten million people worldwide are currently living with this disease. As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease and nearly 60,000 more are diagnosed each year. As our population tends to live longer, these numbers are expected to increase. Unfortunately, the 60,000 diagnosed annually does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
Now, you might ask yourself, how does this disease go undetected? Although it is a debilitating disease, it can have a rather slow onset and symptoms can be subtle at first. This is a disease that primarily affects individuals over the age of 50 when many people are naturally starting to slow down and are seeing changes in their abilities. It should also be noted that Parkinson’s is one and a half times more prevalent in men than women.
So what are some of the early warning signs of Parkinson’s Disease? Many individuals start with what are considered Primary Motor Symptoms. These can include the following:
This symptom is typically seen in about 70% of cases as the first sign that something is going on. The term “resting” is used because the person is doing just that, resting, and has a tremor present. This is different from a “purposeful tremor” that is seen when some individuals attempt to perform a task. A resting tremor usually starts as one finger, hand or foot moving (on one side of the body) with the inability to control or stop it. This tremor usually stops on its own though when a person begins an action.
The medical term for this is known as Bradykinesia. This is a true feature of Parkinson’s that defines it from other disorders. With this symptom, a person appears abnormally still. This includes movement related to walking, repetitive actions and even facial expression. Eventually it affects the ability to complete daily living activities (buttoning a shirt or brushing teeth) and speech.
The muscles involved usually are located in the neck, shoulders and legs. The person will experience stiffness that does not let up. The limbs will remain rigid and arms do not swing as normal when walking. This rigidity can be uncomfortable and at times quite painful.