Parkinson's Disease

Brain & Spine Specialists

Neurologists & Neurosurgeons located in Panama City, FL

About 60,000 Americans receive a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis every year, with men having nearly double the risk compared to women. The experienced team at Brain & Spine Specialists works closely with many Parkinson’s patients, helping them keep their symptoms under control. If you have questions about symptoms like tremors, or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call either Panama City, Florida, location or use the online booking feature.

Parkinson's Disease Q&A

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that develops when nerves that control movement die or degenerate and lose their ability to produce dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating body movement. The loss of dopamine causes Parkinsonian symptoms.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder, although the rate at which symptoms worsen differs for each patient.

What symptoms develop due to Parkinson’s disease?

Tremors in one or both hands are the most common symptom of Parkinson’s. When tremors begin, many patients think they have Parkinson’s disease, but a condition called essential tremor causes similar symptoms. Additionally, many health conditions can cause tremors.

There are four primary Parkinson’s symptoms. You may not develop all four symptoms equally. Tremors may be your most difficult symptom, or you may find that another symptom presents a bigger challenge and tremors are a minor problem.

The four primary symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

  • Tremor while at rest - uncontrollable or involuntary shaking that improves with purposeful movement
  • Rigidity - muscle stiffness an involuntary increase in muscle tone causes
  • Bradykinesia - gradual loss of automatic movement, slow movement, expressionless face
  • Postural instability - difficulty with balance

Parkinsonian tremors may begin in one limb or on one side of the body. As the disease progresses, the tremors often spread to include both sides. While a resting tremor is common, about 25% of patients with Parkinson’s may also have an action tremor, which is a tremor that appears when using a muscle.

You may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Being unable to move
  • Shuffling gait
  • Dragging your foot
  • Stooped posture
  • Cramped handwriting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cognitive impairment

Some patients notice changes in their voice. They may speak softly, too quickly, slur their words, or talk in a monotone.

How is Parkinson’s disease treated?

The team at Brain & Spine Specialists develop a customized treatment based on your symptoms. Many medications are available to restore brain chemicals. Levodopa is converted into dopamine, while other medications work by preventing the breakdown of dopamine or by mimicking brain chemicals.

When medications fail to produce results, your doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation (DST). DST is a surgical procedure to implant a device that sends electrical impulses to the area of your brain responsible for movement. The impulses block faulty nerve signals, so your tremors, rigidity, and other symptoms improve.

When tremors or other Parkinson’s disease symptoms develop, call Brain & Spine Specialists or book an appointment online.