Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Long Island
Parkinson’s disease is what is known as a neurodegenerative disorder, a condition that causes the slowing of the production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a very important neurotransmitter that regulates movement, bodily functions and even emotions. Therefore, as dopamine is slowly deprived from the brain, patients experience a wide range of symptoms both physical and emotional. Parkinson’s Disease is therefore classified as a movement disorder.
Over 1 million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease is not, in and of itself, a fatal disorder, however the CDC considers it the 14th highest causes death in the United States because of the complications that can occur due to its progression.
The prevention and management of Parkinson’s disease is a priority in the field of neurosciences as we currently do not have a good understanding of its causes, we have no cure and treatments are limited to improving quality of life and minimizing symptoms.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
The causes of Parkinson’s disease, in the vast majority of cases, are unknown. Indeed, this uncertainty is one of the greatest challenges in preventing and treating the disease. We do know, however, that genetics, environmental exposure and a combination of the two can have a significant effect upon the development and progression of PD.
Genetics alone is thought to cause less than one sixth of all cases of Parkinson’s Disease. Indeed, it is not common to pass this disease through families without other contributing factors. While certain genetic predispositions, ethnic origins and gene mutations have been shown to increase risk of Parkinson’s Disease, the overall risk is still relatively small.
Environmental factors can also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Certain insecticides, herbicides and fungicides as well as other neurotoxins have all shown to increase risk. Physical head injuries can also increase the risk of Parkinson’s. Once again, these environmental factors are likely not the only cause of the disease and have never been proven as a singular cause of developing the disorder.
How We Diagnose Parkinson’s
There is no diagnostic testing that specifically targets Parkinson’s Disease and as such, diagnosis relies upon the experience and knowledge of the medical practitioner. Indeed, many patients made live with Parkinson’s disease for years, having symptoms, but no diagnosis. Due to improved awareness of Parkinson’s Disease by primary care physicians, especially those that specializing geriatrics, the diagnosis is often made during routine physicals or checkups. From there, the internist will most likely refer the patient to a specialist/neurologist in movement disorders.
The process to accurately diagnose Parkinson’s disease begins with a neurological history and physical examination. How to patient react emotionally and physically to the testing modalities will go a long way to confirm the diagnosis. Even then, there can be some uncertainty. Additional imaging and testing may be employed to rule out other causes rather than confirm the diagnosis of PD.
As we improve our understanding and knowledge of Parkinson’s Disease, we hope to have a definitive test for the condition at some point in the future. For now, patients are best served by having an open and honest conversation with their primary care physician and, if necessary, making an appointment with a movement disorder specialist.
There is no treatment for the underlying causes of Parkinson’s Disease nor do we have effective preventative measures. The most important part of managing Parkinson’s Disease is to catch it as earliest possible so that the greatest number of options are available for supportive care.
We do however employee several medications that can be use alone, or in a complementary fashion to offer the greatest relief for patients with disease. These therapies are customized to the patient’s circumstance and may be adjusted over time to offer the greatest benefit with the fewest side effects. Not all patients will benefit from medications however, especially of their symptoms are mild and manageable in the earlier stages of the disease.