Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting over a million people in the United States. The underlying pathology is a progressive loss of dopamine-containing nerve cells in a brainstem structure called the substantia nigra.
The principal features of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremor at rest
- Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
- Rigidity in the arms and legs (cogwheel rigidity)
- Difficulty walking
Parkinson’s disease is, in general, a slowly progressive disease, although progression rates vary from individual to individual.
In addition to the typical motor features of Parkinson’s disease, patients often develop dysfunction with multiple non-motor aspects of their lives. These can be as disabling as the motor features of the disease.
Non-motor features of Parkinson’s disease include problems with the autonomic nervous system, such as urinary difficulties, constipation, or low blood pressure. Other common problems seen in Parkinson’s disease include sleep disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and dementia. In more advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, slurred speech, drooling, and difficulty swallowing occur.
Currently, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. Scientists are studying genetic factors as well as environmental factors. Several genetic mutations have been discovered that may underlie the development of Parkinson’s disease, and several toxins are being investigated for possible links to the disease.
We can help
At The Mount Sinai Health System, our physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating Parkinson’s disease.
To make an appointment, please call us at 212-241-5607. The Robert and John M. Bendheim Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center is conveniently located on the Upper East Side of New York City.
Robert and John M. Bendheim Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center
5 East 98th Street, Box 1138
New York, NY 10029-6574