What You Should Know About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder which is also considered to be the second most common neurodegenerative disorder caused due to the lack dopamine in the brain. PD is often misdiagnosed due to its varying symptoms in individuals. This disease is characterized by tremors in the limbs while at rest, stiffness in the joints and muscles and slowness. As symptoms worsen, it may become difficult to walk, talk, and perform simple household tasks as well.
During the early stages when the symptoms are mild, it is difficult to accurately diagnose this disease. The lack of standard diagnostic tests is yet another reason for the misdiagnosis. Therefore, it is essential to have an early and correct analysis of Parkinson’s disease in order to develop appropriate strategies for treatment and to maintain a good quality of life for a longer span of time.
Due to the varying symptoms of PD, a person may at times be wrongly diagnosed as developing another condition and at the same time, a person with the symptoms of Parkinson disease, may also be incorrectly detected as developing Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, it is of prime importance to evaluate patients in the initial stage. This is helpful to rule out numerous other health conditions. Careful clinical assessment by a neurologist, informed by a proven diagnostic standard is important during the initial diagnosis.
Symptoms And Misdiagnosis
Parkinson’s disease can present with unanticipated non-motor and motor symptoms. These symptoms can mimic a number of rheumatological, orthopedic, neurological, sleep and mood disorders. It causes stiffness, which also occurs in a plethora of rheumatological conditions, leading to delayed or missed diagnoses.
It is essential to have an early and correct analysis of Parkinson’s disease in order to develop appropriate strategies for treatment
The pain and stiffness, a manifestation of the ‘rigidity’ present in PD can be misdiagnosed as frozen shoulder, low back pain, etc. As a result, patients may be referred to orthopedic surgeons, spinal surgeons or rheumatologists. Therefore, due to an inaccurate diagnosis, patients may have to undergo unnecessary procedures and therapies.
Tremors or shaking is commonly associated with PD. This can also be mistaken for signs of anxiety disorder. Apart from tremors, the slowness and ‘mask like’/expressionless facial symptoms of Parkinson’s can mimic depression as well. Thus, a patient presenting these two symptoms can land in a psychiatric clinic and undergo treatment for a misdiagnosed condition.
It is a well-known fact that patients with Parkinson’s disease can have non- motor signs even before acquiring the motor features. According to a study, 21 per cent of patients with PD initially presented non-motor symptoms. Some symptoms, particularly constipation, can precede the movement disorder.
Patients may report incomplete bowel emptying which may prompt multiple gastroenterological examinations before the underlying analysis of PD becomes obvious. Also, a small proportion (4 per cent) of all patients with PD present with urinary urgency. This can lead to misdiagnosis of benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Levodopa, which is changed to dopamine in the brain, is probably the most helpful therapy for treating Parkinson’s disease. However, there is a possibility of developing unpleasant side effects with this treatment. Side effects such as hallucinations, painful cramps, and involuntary movements may arise. Therefore, this therapy is commonly prescribed with carbidopa to reduce the side effects of levodopa. For people with advanced, uncontrollable motor indications, doctors may recommend surgery. In DBS (deep brain stimulation) neurosurgical procedure, the surgeon inserts electrodes in the brain to treat areas involved in movement. On the other hand, some other surgical procedures, particular regions in the brain that triggers the symptoms are demolished.
Stem Cell Therapy
The use of dopamine-producing cells extracted through stem cells is an upcoming method of treatment that has recently been discovered. The stem cell therapy is a technique wherein, a patient’s own cells are used to repair the damaged or degenerating cells. The procedure involves the removal of bone marrow, as it is an excellent source of MSCs (mesenchymal stem cells).
Once the bone marrow is extracted, it is dispatched to the laboratory. In the lab the MSCs are detached and then the cells are infused back into the patient. All the methods involved in this procedure (extraction and injection) are trouble-free and are done in a span of just a few minutes under strict hygienic and germ-free conditions. The cells injected back into the patient migrate to the affected area and then increase in numbers and start restoring and rejuvenating the destroyed cells.
Stem cell therapy has great therapeutic value in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It promises relief from symptoms, improved mobility and the return to daily life, at a faster pace compared to the conventional forms of treatment. Therefore, a combination of stem cell therapy and an intensive rehabilitation program has resulted in faster recovery and improved quality of life of patients with Parkinson’s disease.