In 2015 Karen noticed that her right arm was not swinging as normal when she walked. She was sent to a neurologist who quickly diagnosed her with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the body in a wide variety of ways. Symptoms can include tremors, slowed movement, muscle rigidity, speech changes, loss of smell and fatigue. Since her diagnosis, Karen has experienced a slow progression of her symptoms.
Doctors are still uncertain as to the cause of Parkinson’s, but there are several factors believed to be involved. Some people appear to have a genetic disposition towards the disease, while environmental factors like long-term toxin exposure or repeated blows to the head appear to play a part. PD causes damage to certain nerve cells in the brain, leading to reduced levels of dopamine. Although dopamine is often thought of as the ‘feel good’ chemical, it also plays important roles in movement, memory, motivation and more. All of these bodily functions can be affected by the lowered dopamine levels caused by PD.
In this episode of the Major Pain podcast we speak with Karen about her Parkinson’s diagnosis, learning about her history with the disease as well as general information about PD itself. She discusses her symptoms and their progression, the medication and lifestyle changes she uses for disease management, and learning to integrate this diagnosis into her daily life.
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