Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder caused by the loss of cells in parts of the brain, thereby causing a reduction of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps the brain coordinate movement and motor skills. When this chemical is reduced, motor functions are impaired. This is one of the early signs of Parkinson's and, unfortunately, such early signs only worsen as the disease progresses.
Many people in the early stages of Parkinson's start out by suffering from small tremors. These often manifest in the hand or foot, on either side of the body. In most cases, these tremors occur during a resting state when the muscles are relaxed. This is called a "resting tremor." Resting tremors occur when the body part that is affected isn't doing any actual muscle work. When the muscles are used, the tremors becomes less noticeable. Eventually, the tremors spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses.
Slow movement is another sign of early Parkinson's disease. A sufferer may notice that his movements have slowed down or that he can no longer complete certain movements. Sometimes he has a problem with walking and may even come to a complete stop, almost in a frozen state. It takes a minute for this to wear off so that movement is again possible.
Poor Balance and Coordination
Many people with early Parkinson's have impaired coordination and balance. They tend to stumble when walking. Also, they have a hard time with quick movements or turning. Sometimes this can cause a person with Parkinson's to lose her balance and fall.
Stiffness or increased muscle tone is another sign. Inflexibility of the muscles also occurs. In people without Parkinson's, the normal working of the muscles is to flex and then relax. For someone with Parkinson's, however, their affected muscle is always flexed and never relaxes. This may also cause a decreased range of motion and cause pain and cramping in the muscle or muscles affected.
Other problems may develop with secondary motor skills. Fatigue is a major concern as well. Many sufferers will nod off to sleep and not even realize they have done so. This can lead to certain dangerous situations, like driving. Poor posture, difficulty swallowing, sexual problems and speech problems, such as slurred speech, are also symptoms of early Parkinson's.