Parkinson's disease is a neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. It is due to the progressive deterioration of certain neurons
in a part of the brain called the substantial nigra. These neurons are associated with a neurotransmitter (chemical molecule allowing the propagation of nerve impulses), dopamine and the decrease of these effects are responsible for the disease and its symptoms. It generally occurs between the ages of 50 and 70 and the symptoms respond to treatment quite well. The evolution of the disease still causes an accentuation of disability. Some diseases are like Parkinson's disease, but are not explained by the degeneration
of dopaminergic neurons: diseases with parkinsonian syndromes include Wilson's disease
(due to excess copper in the body), other neurological disorders, certain dementias or diseases resulting from taking certain antipsychotic
The symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
- a tremor, first affecting one lower limb, then both, causing movements of sleep, aggravated by mental effort, stress, and emotions;
- muscle rigidity;
- slow movements;
- difficulty making precise movements;
- walking in small steps with a loss of automatic arm swing.
After a certain period of evolution, signs of complications
- trouble walking;
- cognitive impairment with a possible evolution to dementia;
- speech disorders.
Some symptoms are also possible during treatment and are considered to be adverse drug reactions.
The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is often difficult to establish, because the symptoms appear gradually, and other diseases may be involved. Diagnosing involves combining several clinical signs and certain tests can be performed and eliminating other disorders responsible for Parkinson-like symptoms. Brain imaging, CT scan or MRI, and blood tests
are frequently prescribed. Often, an initial improvement in symptoms during treatment is a strong argument in favor of the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
The treatment of Parkinson's disease does not cure the disease, but it reduces the problems that it causes. The doctor prescribes anti-Parkinson drugs that are dopamine agonists, which are not used in the second stage of the disease or in older patient since the molecule is responsible for adverse events after a certain period of use. Added to this is support by a physical therapist to try and delay the progression of symptoms. Very rarely surgery may be considered.