This is not a single symptom but a symptom complex. It is also a broad term that physicians use to describe a medical condition in which a person will exhibit symptoms common to someone who has Parkinson’s disease. When a person has this they will be suffering from secondary or atypical Parkinson’s disease. When a person has Parkinsonism they symptoms mimic Parkinson’s disease movement disorders. Although is it is common for a person with Parkinson’s disease to cause Parkinsonism not every person that is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease will have Parkinsonism. It does not affect everyone who has it in the same way. Some who have this condition it progresses fairly fast while in others it happens gradually slow.
In many people with Parkinsonism, whether their condition is a severe disability or just a minor complaint, they all share one common symptom which is a tremor that is unique. When a person with Parkinsonism has a tremor it is called a pill rolling tremor. It will usually start in one hand where there is a rhythmic forward and backward motion of their forefingers and thumbs, like they are rolling a pill. What makes this tremor so unique it is that it is measured at three beats per second. There have also been cases where this unique tremor started in their jaw or either foot first. These tremors are most apparent when a person is under stress and in a majority of people the tremors are only one side of the body in the early stages. As the disease progresses they become more generalized but are rarely debilitating. They can also disappear on their own during intentional or voluntary motion or when asleep.
There are four other primary symptoms a person will usually have with Parkinsonism. You may not have all four but in order to be diagnosed with Parkinsonism you have to have three of these symptoms.
- As mention above, tremors that you cannot contain
- Hypokinesia which is a slowing down of your motor skills.
- Rigidity which is finding any type of movement is hard to initiate
- Having the inability to maintain proper posture or having postural instability where you lean too far back or too far forward along with a bowed head and drooping shoulders. With these symptoms you are more prone to falls.
- Approximately seven percent of the people who have Parkinsonism have developed the symptoms after being treated with particular medications. Some of these psychiatric medications, medications for high blood pressure and stomach disorders. They symptoms of Parkinsonism will usually disappear after the dosage is lower or is taken off the medication causing the problems.
- Another possible cause is a virus called encephalitis lethargic. This virus affected approximately five million people right after World War I and was often referred to as the sleeping sickness. Around the 1920’s it just suddenly disappeared. Almost one-third of the people who had this virus died and the rest were left with a disorder called Post encephalitic Parkinsonism.
- Arteriosclerosis Parkinsonism, which is when you would experience a number of small strokes that can damage several brain vessels. This cause will rarely cause the symptoms of tremors but you can lose your mental abilities and skills.
- Another cause is a condition called Striatonigral degeneration. Your brain’s substantia nigra becomes infected causing your brain to exhibit a degree of damage that is characteristic of ones who had Parkinson’s disease. If this is the cause Parkinsonism progresses faster and the rigidity is more pronounced.
- Poisons and toxins can also cause Parkinsonism. Some of these include carbon disulfide, carbon monoxide, and Manganese dust. Usually this is the cause if a person is addicted to substances that could be tainted with traces of these different toxins..
The first line of treatment is to find out what the underlying cause is and treat it. There is no known cure for Parkinsonism but there are many different medications that can give you relief from the symptoms. Not everyone will be required to take medications. The need to take medication is based on how severe the symptoms are and the degree it has progressed. One medication that is sometimes used is called Levodopa which will help to replenish your brain’s supply of dopamine so the progression of the symptoms.
If you are displaying any of these symptoms you should see your physician immediately because the sooner you can start treatment the less suffering you will display.