As many as one million people are living with Parkinson’s disease in the United States. This progressive nervous system disorder starts gradually and progresses to affect larger movement patterns. Board-certified neurologist Subhashie Wijemanne, MD, at Parkinson’s, Restless Legs & Movement Disorder Specialists, PLLC, in Austin, Texas, offers evaluation and management of your Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Call her office or book online for a consultation if you’ve been diagnosed with this movement disorder or have symptoms that suggest it.
You might have heard the term “Parkinson’s disease” when famous figures like Michael J. Fox and Alan Alda announce their diagnoses. What you might not know, however, is how Parkinson’s disease affects a person.
The disease is neurodegenerative, meaning it affects your nervous system. It targets specific neurons in the brain called substantia nigra that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that sends messages between nerve cells and that helps modulate movement.
When these nerve cells abnormally break down or die, lower dopamine levels cause abnormal brain activity, reducing your movement and causing other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
This progressive nervous system disorder starts with mild symptoms, maybe a slight tremor in one hand. Other forms of tremor may also occur. Other early symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
Symptoms usually develop gradually. You don’t just wake up one day with significant changes in the way you move. Every patient has a slightly different experience with Parkinson’s disease. Each benefit from a customized management plan developed by Dr. Wijemanne.
Researchers are puzzled by why some people develop Parkinson’s disease. In about 10-15% of cases, genetics seems to be to blame. Things in their environment can also influence the development of the disease. A head injury, exposure to certain pesticides, and where you live all seem to affect whether you’ll develop Parkinson’s disease.
As you move into middle age or your later years, your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease increases. If a close relative has Parkinson’s disease, you’re at a greater risk of developing the disease. This risk is quite small unless you have many relatives with the condition. Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than are women.
Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, but specific treatments can notably improve your symptoms. While Parkinson’s disease itself isn’t fatal, its complications can result in severe disability and death.
Dr. Wijemanne can recommend a combination of medications to help ease Parkinson’s symptoms. None of these reverse the disease, but exercise can help and can make symptoms much more manageable. Surgery is sometimes recommended to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.
Dr. Wijemanne can also help you change your lifestyle so that you live a higher quality of life. She recommends you get more rest and physical activity to stay as healthy as possible.
To learn more about Parkinson’s disease and how to manage it, contact Subhashie Wijemanne, MD. Use this website to schedule or call her office today.