Explained: These 5 early signs can show you might have Parkinson's disease

A lot of times stress and anxiety can lead to tremors which can be mistaken as signs of Parkinson's disease.

By Dr. Na’eem Sadiq  Published on  23 Sep 2022 10:33 AM GMT
Explained: These 5 early signs can show you might have Parkinsons disease

Dr. Na'eem Sadiq, MD, PhD

Medical Director and Head of Department of Stem cell therapy

Plexus Neuro and Stem cell research centre

Kanishka Sharma, MOT

Senior Occupational Therapist and Head of Department of Rehabilitation

Plexus Neuro and stem cell research centerHyderabad: Everything ages with time. We all age; our brains age but only some of us end up having neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease (PD). Some of us develop symptoms even as young adults. So, what causes PD? Is it only age-related or are there any other factors involved? What are the warning signs and when should you see a doctor?

There has been a debate whether the pathological processes of PD are exaggerated expressions of a normal ageing process or whether the ageing process makes us vulnerable to neurogenerative diseases such as PD or if the pathology of PD is completely independent of ageing. Although brain cells, like all other cells, are particularly susceptible to ageing, neuronal death is not programmed to occur at a particular time. Changes in ageing interact with the genes and the environmental factors at a cellular and molecular level to determine which cells age successfully and which succumb to neurodegeneration. It is not clear though, what exactly gives rise to the neurodegenerative processes in an individual.

It can be hard to tell if you or your loved one has Parkinson's disease. A lot of times stress and anxiety can lead to tremors which can be mistaken as signs of Parkinson's disease. Below are 5 signs that show that you might have the disease. No single one of these signs means that you should worry, but if you have more than two signs, you should consider making an appointment with a neurologist.

1. Tremors

Have you seen shaking in your hands or chin? Tremors at rest (called resting tremors) are a common early sign of PD.

What can be ignored?

Shaking after a strenuous workout, shaking as the side effects of certain drugs, shaking due to stress or anger.

What cannot be ignored?

Resting tremors. The typical PD tremor occurs mostly at rest and lessens during sleep and when the body part is actively in use. For example, your hands might shake continuously, (without any obvious reason) while sitting or walking, but when you reach out to pick up something, the tremor is less noticeable or goes away entirely. Hand tremors in PD are often described as "pill-rolling" tremors (imagine rolling a pill continuously between your thumb and fingers). Apart from hands, they can also be seen in other parts of the body like the jaw, head, legs and would interfere in the performance of daily activities that require fine motor coordination like shaving, applying make-up, buttoning or eating.

2. Small handwriting

Do you see a change in your handwriting or in your signature? Has your bank started rejecting your cheques due to the change in your signature? When you write, do you feel your letters have suddenly become smaller and your handwriting looks cramped? This change in handwriting could be a sign of PD, called micrographia.

What can be ignored?

Temporary changes in handwriting due to fatigue, an injury in the arm, wrist or hand, poor vision, arthritis in finger joints or any other condition.

What cannot be ignored?

Obvious changes in the handwriting which makes it illegible or difficult to read, cramped letters and letter size that progressively goes on reducing as you write.

3. Trouble moving or walking around

Do you feel your posture has become stooped? Do you feel stiffness in your legs and on some days, every step that you take seems to be effortful? Have you been pointed out about your "stiff style of walking" or feel that your feet have been "stuck to the ground"? All these feelings can point towards the onset of PD.

What can be ignored?

A recent injury in the arms, legs or spine that makes walking difficult and leads to changes in posture, muscle soreness after a heavy strength training session that leads to a temporary change in the style of walking.

What cannot be ignored?

When you have to THINK about walking. When you feel walking is no more an automatic movement for you and each time you get up, carry a plate or step up on a higher surface, you have to plan your movement. Turning while walking becomes challenging and if you don't pause and plan your turns, you tend to lose your balance and fall.

4. Slowness

Do you feel everything has suddenly become fast around you? You take time to get up from your bed, you walk slowly, you eat slowly, you dress slowly and you always see your family and friends waiting for you to finish the activity. Even if you try your best, you are late for work, late for everything. Slowness is one of the cardinal signs of PD and should not be ignored at any point of time.

5. Constipation

Do you have trouble clearing your bowels without straining every day? Straining every day can be an early sign of Parkinson's disease and should be addressed at the earliest.

What can be ignored?

If you eat a lot of junk food and do not have enough water or fiber in your diet, or are on some regular medications, it can lead to constipation. But if you feel the need to strain on a regular basis without any obvious reasons, you should see a doctor.

What cannot be ignored?

Fewer than three bowel movements per week and frequently accompanied by straining, hard stools, or a sensation of incomplete emptying need to be addressed by a doctor. Studies have shown that constipation often begins before the motor symptoms of Parkinson's. Researchers have also found that having a bowel movement less than once a day indicates a four times higher risk of developing Parkinson's.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens with time and age but it is a treatable condition. Like any other condition, it is easier to manage the disease in its initial stages. Apart from medications, Regenerative medicine is an emerging trend in the treatment of PD. When Regenerative medicine (stem cell therapy) is combined with a planned exercise protocol targeting the dopaminergic neurons, the results are magnificent.

What can you do if you have PD?

Step 1: Fix an appointment with a neurologist.

Step 2: Get a clinical assessment done where a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist will closely look at your symptoms and examine you.

Step 3: Start on the recommended symptoms to delay the disease progression and manage your symptoms.

Step 4: Ask your treating doctor for a set of home exercises and do them regularly.

Step 5: Eat a healthy diet and maintain a regular follow-up.

To consult for Parkinson's disease contact: PLEXUS Bangalore on +91 89048 42087 (whatsapp) | 080 2546 0886, 080 2547 0886, 080 2549 0886, and Hyderabad on +91 78159 64668 | 040-2406 7886.

Dr. Na'eem Sadiq, MD, PhD

Medical Director and Head of Department of Stem cell therapy

Plexus Neuro and Stem cell research centre

Kanishka Sharma, MOT

Senior Occupational Therapist and Head of Department of Rehabilitation

Plexus Neuro and stem cell research center

Next Story
Share it