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Michael J Fox and Muhammad Ali, have raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease.

Michael J Fox and Muhammad Ali, have raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease.
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Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system. It causes damage to the nerve cells in a region of the brain that produces dopamine, a vital chemical needed for smooth control of muscles and movement.

Parkinson’s disease mainly affects people over 60, but it can come on earlier.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is not known. It’s thought to be inherited in only a small proportion of cases.

There are also thoughts that exposure to pesticides and herbicides may be a possible cause, although that is not certain.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • tremor or shaking, which usually begins in one arm or hand
  • muscle rigidity or stiffness
  • slowing of movement
  • stooped posture
  • balance problems.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s. However, symptoms can be treated with a combination of:

  • medicines to increase or substitute for dopamine
  • following a healthy diet with regular exercise
  • modifications to the physical environment at home and work
  • brain surgery.

Your doctors will tailor your treatment based on your individual circumstances. You will manage your condition best if you have the support of a multidisciplinary team, which may include a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, specialist nurse and dietician.

Last reviewed: November 2014

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