It has already been specified that the four primary symptoms of the Parkinson’s disease include tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability. The tremor experienced by patients of Parkinson’s disease “takes the form of a rhythmic back-and-forth motion at a rate of 4-6 beats per second. ” The tremors usually manifest in the hands first, although in some cases may appear first in the jaw or the foot. The tremor also becomes more pronounced when the hand is at rest or when the patient is stressed but usually disappears during sleep or is reduced with intentional movement.
However, as already specified, rigidity is also a symptom of the disease which makes it difficult for the patient to move intentionally. Patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease experience rigidity as the balance between active and opposing muscles are disturbed due to the impairment of the substantia nigra neurons that produces dopamine. The muscles of patients suffering from the disease are constantly tensed and contracted.
The same reason could be said of bradykinesia, the difference is that bradykinesia slows down movement or that it impedes spontaneous and automatic movements rather than disallowing movements. With bradykinesia, activities that were previously performed with ease such as eating or dressing will now take several hours to complete. On the other hand, postural instability causes a patient to fall easily. They also “develop a stooped posture in which the head is bowed and the shoulders are stooped. ”
Patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease may also develop depression, emotional changes, difficulty in chewing or swallowing, sleep problems, orthostatic hypotension, fatigue and loss of energy. Sleep problems may include difficulty staying asleep at night, having restless sleep, having nightmares and emotional dreams, and drowsiness or sudden sleep during the day. Patients may also develop skin problems such as the face and scalp becoming too oily, resulting into dandruff in the head, while the skin on the other parts of the body may become exceedingly dry.
Excessive sweating is another symptom associated with the development of skin problems. Some patients also develop cognitive problems where memory is impaired and also causes slow thinking. Cognitive problems may become severe during the later course of the disease leading to a condition called Parkinson’s dementia which affects memory, social judgment, language and reasoning as well as other mental skills. In relation to the impairment of the autonomic nervous system, a person with Parkinson’s disease may also develop urinary problems and constipation.
The rigidity and the lack of normal movement may also cause muscle cramps and dystonia—sustained muscle contractions that cause forced or twisted positions—which in turn causes muscle and joint pains. Patients may also develop central pains that originates from the brain and is manifested through unexplained burning and stabbing sensations. Patients may also experience dyskinesia, an involuntary movement such as twitching, twisting and writhing, but is more associated with the Parkinson’s disease medication levodopa. Moreover, persons with Parkinson’s disease may suffer from erectile dysfunction.