Tacoma General Hospital

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Neurology

Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders

Parkinson's disease is one of the best known movement disorders. It happens when there is a problem with certain nerve cells in the brain.

Normally, these nerve cells make an important chemical called dopamine. Dopamine sends signals to the part of your brain that controls movement. It lets your muscles move smoothly and do what you want them to do. When you have Parkinson’s, these nerve cells break down. Then you no longer have enough dopamine, and you have trouble moving the way you want to.

The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

  • Tremor, which means shaking or trembling. Tremor may affect your hands, arms, legs, or head.
  • Stiff muscles
  • Slow movement
  • Problems with balance or walking

Tremor may be the first symptom you notice. It is one of the most common signs of the disease, although not everyone has it. More importantly, not everyone with a tremor has Parkinson's disease. People usually start to have symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60, but in some people symptoms start earlier.

Parkinson’s is progressive, which means it gets worse over time. But usually this happens slowly, over a period of many years. And there are good treatments that can help patients live a full life.

Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

Our expert providers can often diagnose Parkinson's with a thorough neurological exam which will show how well a patient's nerves are working by testing movement, muscle strength, reflexes and vision. In some cases, medicine may be prescribed prior to diagnosis to see how symptoms are affected. Other tests, such as blood tests or MRIs, may also be conducted to rule out other causes.

Currently there is no cure for Parkinson's. But we work closely with our patients with Parkinson's disease to create a care plan that is right for them to reduce as much as possible the impact this disease has on their lives. This plan may include observation, medications, or procedures such as deep brain stimulation.

Movement disorders

MultiCare Neuroscience Center of Washington can also help patients who have other movement disorders, such as: