Parkinson's Disease: From Symptoms to Diagnosis and Treatment
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive condition known to affect about four million people worldwide. No-one knows the cause of it and there’s no cure.
It’s an indiscriminate disease which has claimed many high profile sufferers among its victims – the late Pope John Paul II, Hollywood movie star Michael J. Fox and boxing legend Muhammad Ali to name but a few.
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The disease was first brought to the attention of the medical world in 1817 by an English physician by the name of James Parkinson, who described this chronic, progressive condition as the “shaking palsy” because trembling limbs (known as tremor) are one of the most common and obvious symptoms. Rigid or “frozen” muscles, slowness of movement and clumsiness are among other common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). A large proportion of sufferers also experience depression, partly because of the disease itself (which affects the nerve cells in part of the brain) and partly because of the emotional turmoil which inevitably follows a diagnosis. Taken together, it’s small wonder that so many PD patients still feel there’s a stigma attached to the disease and are too embarrassed to tell work colleagues and even close relatives and friends.
Of course a person’s world is rocked to its foundations when a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis is pronounced. Until a cure is found this is a condition which can only get worse with the passing of time and many victims become wheelchair bound or institutionalized.
The good news is that, thanks to medical advances in recent years, the disease can be effectively managed as long as it’s identified early enough and appropriate treatment is started. Many PD sufferers continue to work and live highly productive lives for years after their diagnosis.
Diagnosis in itself is a problem because the symptoms of the disease are often confused with those of other conditions. Misdiagnosis, especially in the early stages of the disease, is fairly common and in fact many Parkinson’s patients are never diagnosed at all (the condition may only be revealed after death during a post mortem). Other people displaying PD type symptoms have been treated for the disease for years only to discover later that the doctors got it wrong and they never had the condition at all!
This site exists to provide independent information about the issues affecting those with Parkinson’s disease, their families and carers. We tackle a wide range of topics from drug treatments and daily living tips to surgical treatments and sex. If your life has been touched by PD and you have something to say about it, we’d like to hear from you – contact us or post a message on our feedback.
At Guide4Living, we don’t rely on funding from governments, other political institutions, charities or commercial bodies with a vested interest in Parkinson’s disease. So if you want to rock the boat or simply let off steam, you’ve come to the right place!