Parkinson's tremor



1. What is Parkinson’s tremor?

2. Who is affected by Parkinson’s tremor?

3. What causes Parkinson’s tremor?

4. How does Parkinson’s tremor develop?

5. How is Parkinson’s tremor treated?

6. What type of doctor treats Parkinson’s tremor?




What is Parkinson’s tremor?


Tremors are a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease and are characterised by involuntary shaking or quivering. Parkinson’s tremors are slow and rhythmic and commonly begin on one side of the body, in the hand, foot or leg. They may also later go on to affect both sides of the body as the condition develops. This type of tremor in the hand is often described as ‘pill-rolling’ as it appears as though the patient is rolling a pill backwards and forwards between the fingers and thumb.


Some patients with Parkinson’s disease also experience tremors in the jaw, chin or mouth and may even feel a shaking sensation within their chest or other limbs that isn’t necessarily visible. Parkinson’s tremors most commonly occur when the person is at rest, when sitting, for example. When the person is active in some way or is sleeping, the tremor usually becomes less noticeable. This distinguishes Parkinson’s tremors from other types of tremor associated with different conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, essential tremor or some medications.


Who is affected by Parkinson’s tremor?


Between seventy and eighty per cent of sufferers of Parkinson’s disease experience tremors at some point, though younger patients are typically less affected. In general, the progression of the condition is slower in those who experience resting tremor. When stressed, anxious or fatigued, patients often find that their tremor becomes temporarily more prevalent.


What causes Parkinson’s tremor?


Parkinson’s tremor is related to dopamine levels in the body. Dopamine is an important chemical messenger related to coordination and movement. When some of the brain’s nerve cells die, less dopamine is produced and this can lead to reduced movement, rigidity and slowness as well as tremors.


How does Parkinson’s tremor develop?


It is impossible to predict how a tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease will develop as this varies widely from patient to patient. However, it is well established that in nearly all cases, the severity of the tremor will plateau at a certain stage and will not continually worsen. In some patients, tremors will fully subside over the course of several years whilst in others, their symptoms will persist.


How is Parkinson’s tremor treated?


Parkinson’s tremor can be a troublesome symptom, especially when experienced in the hand and arm as fine motor skills needed for writing, eating and other daily tasks can be affected. Generally speaking, tremors are less prevalent when the body is active and as such, people in the early stages of the condition may be able to suppress tremors by squeezing or rolling a ball or pen.


There are also medications available to treat Parkinson’s tremor, most notably Levodopa and Carbidopa, which work together to regenerate levels of dopamine in the body to reduce the severity of the patient’s symptoms.


In cases where medication is not successful in improving tremors, deep brain stimulation, or DBS may be considered. This procedure involves implanting electrodes which painlessly regulate impulses within the brain. DBS is successful in treating around ninety per cent of cases which did not respond to medication.


As stress and anxiety can worsen Parkinson’s tremor, activities which are stress-relieving and calming also play a key role in the management of Parkinson’s tremor. Sleep, breathing and wellness exercises as well as sport can contribute to improving the patient’s condition.


What type of doctor treats Parkinson’s tremor?


Specialist neurologists treat Parkinson’s tremor.

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