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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition of the central nervous system that is progressive. The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is largely unknown, though it is thought to have genetic and environmental causes. Several genetic markers have been found. Research is ongoing.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, though there are many treatments that can ease the symptoms and burden of the disease. Most of these treatments involve increasing the body’s store of dopamine, which is a chemical neurotransmitter the central nervous system uses for a variety of functions.

Signs and Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is marked by 4 hallmark signs including rigidity, resting tremor, bradykinesia, and gait instability.

Rigidity – This is a symptom which includes difficulty moving limbs and muscles in general, where they are generally stiff.
Resting tremor – This is a type of tremor where fingers, hands, limbs, or a part of the body has a tremor, when at rest and which improves with movement.
Bradykinesia – This is where every movement of the body is slow whether it is walking, talking, blinking, or any other type of movement.
Gait instability – Patient’s with Parkinson’s generally have difficulty moving or ambulating and may be less stable and have falls.

Patient’s also have a variety of nonmotor symptoms which may include sleep dysfunction, depression and anxiety, neuropsychiatric symptoms, autonomic symptoms, and sensory changes.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis typically involves referral to a neurologist who will do a complete examination and ask a thorough history. Blood work and imaging may be performed to rule out other conditions.

Management

There are a variety of treatments to help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life in patient’s with Parkinson’s disease.

Management includes lifestyle changes and education, pharmacological therapy that aims to increase dopamine in the body, and sometimes even surgery.

It is important to follow with your doctor to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana can potentially alleviate the burden of Parkinson’s Disease. Patient’s with Parkinson’s can be certified for use of medical marijuana in NY by an authorized healthcare provider.

Resources

Parkinson’s Foundation – http://parkinson.org/

Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease – https://www.michaeljfox.org/

American Parkinson’s Disease Association – https://www.apdaparkinson.org/