Parkinsons disease is considered to be a major disorder of the motor system. There are four primary physical symptoms that characterize this incurable disease. These symptoms, referred to as the Ã¢â‚¬Å“TRAPÃ¢â‚¬Â symptoms include Tremors or trembling that takes place in the arms, legs, hands, face and jaw; Rigidity (or stiffness) that occurs in the muscles of the limbs and /or torso of the body; Akinesia which refers to a slowness in moving about and/or doing ordinary tasks or a complete lack of movement and finally, the fourth, Postural reflex impairment- also referred to as postural instability- which means a problem with balancing oneself and coordinating movements. As Parkinsons disease progresses and each of these symptoms worsens, the sufferer may find that their ability to walk, speak and do other very simple things is affected.
A tremor is an involuntary, rhythmic movement mostly occurring in the fingers, hands, arms, legs and face (often in the lips) and is known as a resting tremor because it is the most noticeable when the person is not actively moving that part of his or her body. Tremors are the most common first symptoms of Parkinsons disease being found in approximately seventy percent of sufferers although up to twenty-five percent of sufferers do not experience tremors at all.
Rigidity is involved with muscle tone and is often felt as a form of stiffness or tightness. In Parkinsons disease having rigidity of the muscles, which is often seen in lower back pain or shoulder pain is called Ã¢â‚¬Å“cogwheel rigidity.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Akinesia (lack of movement) often goes hand in hand with bradykinesia (slowness of movement) when it comes to Parkinsons disease. Sometimes even the easisest of everyday tasks- buttoning a blouse, combing hair, pouring a glass of milk, or tossing a salad- become more difficult to do because of slower movements that cannot be helped.
When a person first begins experiencing the symptoms of Parkinsons disease, Postural reflex impairment does not show itself. It occurs much later in the progression, sometimes many years, and has to do with the patients ability to keep their balance and also be coordinated. People at this stage should have someone with them at all times as the tendency to fall is very great.
Some of the physical symptoms that show themselves early in the development of Parkinsons disease include changes in handwriting style (often becoming smaller and sloppier); a weakening of the face and throat muscles which can lead to choking, coughing, drooling and problems speaking and swallowing; cramps in both joints and muscles; an inability to swing ones arm on one side as one walks about; isolated, uncomfortable shoulder pain; difficulty turning over in bed, getting out of bed or getting up from a chair or couch; constipation and problems starting or controlling the flow of urine; a tendency to Ã¢â‚¬Å“freezeÃ¢â‚¬Â, in other words a moment when one is unable to move (this occurs most often while walking), and an excess of dandruff or the tendency for skin to get oily.