These are the early signs of Parkinson’s disease

  • Jan 20 , 2017

Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the nervous system that affect movements. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movements.

In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, your face may show little or no expression, or your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time. Although Parkinson's disease can't be cured, medications may markedly improve your symptoms. In occasional cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.

Indicators of Parkinson’s disease:

  • Small handwriting - A sudden change in the size of your handwriting may be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease. People with PD have a hard time controlling movement because of the changes in the brain. This can make fine motor skills like writing more difficult. Micrographia is the medical term for “small handwriting.” Parkinson’s patients often have handwriting that looks cramped. Individual letters tend to be smaller than normal, and words are spaced closely. A person with PD may begin writing a letter in their regular handwriting but gradually start writing in smaller font.
  • Tremor - Tremor is perhaps the most recognizable sign of Parkinson’s disease. A slight twitching or shaking of a finger, hand, or foot is common. The person experiencing the tremor is likely to be the only person who notices them in early stages of PD. The shaking will worsen and become noticeable to others, however, as the condition progresses. The tremor is usually most noticeable at rest.

    Photo Courtesy: Whipples-Surgery

  • Stiffness and slowness in movements - Parkinson’s disease mainly affects adults older than 60. One may feel stiff and a little slow to get going in the morning at this stage of your life. This is a completely normal development in many healthy people. The difference with PD is that the stiffness and slowness it causes don’t go away as you get up and start your day. Stiffness of the limbs (rigidity) and slow movement (bradykinesia) appear early on with PD. These symptoms are caused by the impairment of the neurons that control movement. A person with PD will notice jerkier motions and move in a more uncoordinated pattern than before. Eventually, a person may develop the characteristic ‘shuffling gait’.
  • Blank stare - Parkinson’s can affect the natural facial expressions in addition to gross motor skills. People often comment that some individuals with PD have a blank stare. This phenomenon, called masking, is a common sign of early PD. The disease can make movement and control of small muscles in the face difficult. Patients may have a very serious look on their face even when the conversation is lighthearted and lively. People with PD often blink less often as well.
  • The posture - The wide, uncontrolled, involuntary movements of Parkinson’s disease don’t happen overnight. Posture will change in small ways at first, and will gradually worsen. A stooped posture that can also be described as leaning and slouching is an early indicator of PD. This posture has to do with the loss of coordination and balance affecting the body. Back injuries can also cause stooping, but patients with back injuries may eventually straighten up again after a period of healing. People with PD often are unable regain that skill.