Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects a person’s ability to produce dopamine, specifically it halts the production of dopamine. With the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the dopamanergic parts of the brain, dopamine loss slowly gets to a critical level and Parkinsonian symptoms start to develop. In many cases, people show signs of the disease years before Parkinson’s develops.
There are different manifestations, or phenotypes of Parkinson’s Disease. Some patients have a very prominent tremor, where other patients have minimal to no tremor, but are just frozen and have a difficult time moving.
One of the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease is constipation. This is because the accumulation of abnormal proteins in nerve cells actually starts in the gastrointestinal tract. It also starts in the brain stem, and then it works its way into the midbrain (the dopamine producing part of the brain).
Shoulder pain is one of the cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease because there is a rigidity that happens in the body as dopamine is lost, and they tend to get stiffness in the shoulder. It is important to look at the whole picture to see if it is just a physical issue, or if there is something neurological going on. There is a new type of SPECT scan that can see how much dopamine is being produced in different parts of the brain, how it is being received, and can add to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s is generally accepted as a clinical diagnosis. However, there is not one lab test to take to say that you have it. You don’t need to have a tremor to have Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a conglomeration of symptoms such as rigidity, slowing of movement, tremors, hypomimia, and postural disturbances. There can be a genetic proclivity to develop Parkinson’s Disease, and there is a gut connection as well.
When the Parkinson’s process begins in the gut, and the gut gets turned off and motility is slowed down, there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines (SIBO- small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). These bacteria release pieces of bacteria into circulation, which is highly inflammatory, which contributes to the neurodegenerative aspects of Parkinson’s Disease.
There are also Parkinsonism disorders which are more based in balance, lack of movement, falls, urinary urgency, low blood pressure and things of that nature. Parkinsonism is a general term that refers to a group of neurological disorders that cause movement problems similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease such as tremors, slow movement and stiffness.
Keep in mind that Parkinson’s Disease is still a neurodegenerative disease, and there is nothing that completely reverses it. At Gates Brain Health, we offer more natural solutions to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, allowing the patient to have increased function for more years, which leads to a better quality of life for the patient.