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Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremors

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a movement disorder that causes reduced mobility and unintended movements, such as shaking, tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. It is Australia’s second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s dementia, affecting more than 80,000 people. The incidence of Parkinson’s disease increases with age, with more than one in 100 people over 60 having it.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from person to person and may change over time. They usually start gradually and worsen as the disease progresses. The main symptoms include:

  • Tremor
  • Stiffness or tightness of muscles
  • Bradykinesia (Slowness)
  • Loss of balance

Other symptoms that may occur include:

  • Soft speech
  • Reduced handwriting
  • Changes in facial expression
  • Mood disorders
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Sleep disorders
  • Pain and sensory disturbances
  • Constipation
  • Urinary urgency
  • Low blood pressure

Age is the greatest risk factor for PD. The risk increases with age, although PD can affect younger people as well. Other risk factors include:

  • Gender (men are more likely to develop PD)
  • Genetics
  • Head trauma
  • Environmental toxins.

The diagnosis of PD can be complex since the symptoms can vary widely between individuals and mimic the signs of other conditions. Your neurologist may ask about your medical history and perform a physical examination. He may also use imaging tests and other lab tests to help make a diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease

There is no cure for PD, but treatments can help manage its symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Medications are the mainstay of treatment and include:

  • Levodopa
  • Dopamine agonists
  • MAO-B inhibitors
  • Anticholinergics

Some individuals may benefit from certain types of procedures that stimulate or destroy certain parts of the brain that control movements, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), pallidotomy, and thalamotomy.

When standard treatments fall short, advanced therapies should be considered. Currently available advanced therapies are:

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS)
  • Botulinum toxin injection
  • Continuous levodopa-carbidopa intestinal gel (LCIG) – Duodopa
  • Continuous subcutaneous apomorphine infusion (CSAI) – Apomorphine

Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, the right treatments and lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your condition and help you manage your symptoms. Talk to our movement disorders specialist neurologist at Melbourne NeuroCare to find out what treatment and lifestyle options are best for you.

Book an appointment

If you or a loved one is suffering from a movement disorder, our team at Melbourne Neurocare can help. We invite you to book a consultation with one of our movement disorder neurologists. Your health is our top priority, and we look forward to helping you achieve the best possible outcome.