If you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease but treatment isn’t working, you may be feeling frustrated. It’s important to understand that while you might have symptoms of Parkinson’s, those symptoms could be caused by factors other than the disease itself.
These are called parkinsonisms and they often don’t respond to the treatments recommended for Parkinson’s Disease.
As a board-certified neurologist at The Spine and Sports Center at The Galleria in Houston, and Sugar Land, Texas, Dr. Ed Benny diagnoses and treats a wide range of neurological disorders, including Parkinson's Disease and parkinsonism. Here’s the difference between the two disorders.
Parkinson’s Disease basics
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological disorder that’s also classified as a movement disorder since it affects your motor control. Symptoms include:
- Tremors (usually starting in one hand and progressing to all limbs)
- Stiff or slow movement
- Posture and balance problems
- Lack of control over involuntary movements, like blinking
- Cessation of arm swinging when walking
- Speech and writing changes
Most Parkinson’s symptoms result from a lack of dopamine in the brain caused by the death of neurons that produce dopamine. Most doctors will prescribe Levodopa to supplement dopamine to see if symptoms improve. In about 75% of cases, Levodopa helps reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s.
When it’s not Parkinson’s Disease
In those cases where Levodopa doesn't help with Parkinson’s symptoms, it’s usually because the symptoms aren’t caused by neuron death in the brain but by external factors. These factors include any of the following:
- Medications prescribed for psychosis, psychiatric disorders, or nausea
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Neurodegenerative disorders
- Multiple instances of head trauma
- Fluid build up around the brain, or brain tumors or lesions
- Metabolic disorders, chronic liver failure, or Wilson's disease
If you have symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease but Levodopa hasn’t helped, we’ll start looking for other explanations for your parkinsonisms. Treatment is then dictated by what’s causing your symptoms.
For example, if you’re diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, chelation can be done to help remove excess copper from your blood and liver. If environmental toxins are causing your symptoms, you may be able to stop exposure. If you’re having a bad reaction to medication, we can work with you to adjust your meds.
Want to learn more about treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, parkinsonisms, and other neurological disorders? You can get answers by calling our nearest location or booking a visit online today.