Dr. Joon Faii Ong is a medical doctor and recognized expert on Parkinson’s Disease and associated Essential Tremors. He discusses the latest developments in medical treatments of Parkinson’s Disease with tremor control.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder. Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by tremors, slow movements, and muscle rigidity. These symptoms generally start on one side of the body but usually spread to other areas. The disease also causes changes in cognitive thinking, such as memory loss. In extreme cases, the person may not be able to work or take care of himself.
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
The exact cause is still unknown, but it is generally agreed upon that the disease is related to a lack of dopamine in key areas of the brain. As a result, those suffering from this disease have tremors as their hands and fingers shake as they attempt to control them.
How does Essential Tremor Differ?
Essential Tremor is not the same as Parkinson’s Disease. Instead, Essential Tremors are caused by the brain sending signals to certain muscles in the body to shake or tremble. Unlike Parkinson’s disease, which causes slow movements and muscle rigidity, those with Essential Tremors suffer from quick jerks throughout their bodies. The frequency of these jerks is usually quite high.
What are the Symptoms of Essential Tremor?
People suffering from Essential Tremors usually have unsteady hands, and their fingers shake at a high frequency. Their head will often follow suit with similar shaking movements. Even eyes can show signs of tremor in some cases, although this is less common than other symptoms.
What Treatments are Available for Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor?
There are numerous treatments available for Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremors. The simplest treatment is often to take a medication such as carbidopa or levodopa, which can help decrease the symptoms of tremors. These medications have been shown in many studies to be effective in up to 60% of patients. In some cases, this medication can be taken orally, while in others, it must be injected into the body for maximum effectiveness.
More advanced medications include injection of the dopamine agonist apomorphine, which is also very effective. If this treatment does not work, surgery may be available to people whose subthalamic nucleus is destroyed. This can impact tremors by creating a lesion or scar that will hopefully decrease the likelihood of more tremors.
How have New Developments Aided in Treating Parkinson’s Disease?
Recently, there have been some new developments on how to treat Parkinson’s Disease. One of the most interesting new treatments is deep brain stimulation which involves implanting electrodes into specific brain areas where tremors are generated. These electrodes are then connected with wires through the neck and chest. When a patient feels a tremor coming, the electrodes will then zap the areas in the brain that are generating the tremors.
Another recent discovery is that of a new drug that acts as dopamine receptors. This would allow those with Parkinson’s Disease to feel better by taking this medication by allowing dopamine from outside sources to reach their brains. To read more on topics like this, check out the lifestyle category.