If you’ve ever thought about “Parkinson’s Disease,” your mind likely goes to Michael J. Fox, the actor who’s made his tremor part of multiple characters he’s played over the years. But Parkinson’s can be noticed long before tremors set in if you know what symptoms to look for.
Dr. Christopher Duma has dedicated his life to treating patients with neurological disorders, including “movement disorders” like Parkinson’s Disease. He sees patients in his Newport Beach, California neurosurgery practice, and he can help confirm a Parkinson’s diagnosis at an early stage. He often prescribes a surgical treatment plan to improve quality of life.
Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder that typically affects people over the age of 60, although 5%-10% of patients have an early-onset form that begins before age 50. If you have Parkinson’s, you will eventually start showing motor-related symptoms, the most noticeable of which are tremors which can affect your head, hands, and eventually your whole body. Other notable symptoms include slow movements, balance problems, and muscle stiffness.
Well before major motor problems show up, early signs appear that should prompt a doctor to consider Parkinson’s as a diagnosis (many patients are misdiagnosed for years).
Early stage symptoms that could indicate Parkinson’s include:
Additional, secondary symptoms include:
Dr. Duma can prescribe several treatments for Parkinson’s patients, He typically starts by confirming the diagnosis with brain scans. Clumps in the brain cells of a substance called “Lewy bodies” often provide confirmation that there is ongoing damage being done to brain cells, and it can help confirm a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
If you catch Parkinson's early on, before tremors start, drug therapies may be used. Once tremors appear, surgical intervention can also help. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) can help reduce tremors by use of an implanted device that allows patients to send electrical impulses to the part of the brain known as the thalamus, which is involved in movement. Dr. Duma uses the Activa™ Therapy System surgically implanted in the thalamus and a handheld magnet to allow patients to manually stop tremors up to 80% of the time.
If you or a loved one has early signs of Parkinson's, call Dr. Duma’s office at 949-209-9232 or request an appointment online.