Pain & Parkinson’s disease

Understanding Parkinson’s disease

When we think about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease people often associate it with the more common symptoms such as stiffness in the joints, slowness of movement and poor mobility. There are however other symptoms which can be just as debilitating but which don’t show outwardly, pain is one of them.

Most sufferers of this disease will admit to having painful symptoms and have some form of painful discomfort on a daily basis, in fact this symptom can become so severe that other symptoms of the disease are overshadowed, yet it is a symptom which is very often overlooked by people in general.

Pain and discomfort associated with Parkinson’s disease is brought about either due to musculoskeletal problems brought on by poor posture, or brought on by Dystonia which is the twisting of a muscle group or body part and discomfort due to severe restlessness.

Musculoskeletal pain

Aching muscles and joints are a common side effect in someone with Parkinson’s disease, lack of movement and abnormal posture all contribute to this. One of the most common forms of musculoskeletal pain is stiffness in the shoulder which is often termed frozen shoulder; hip, back and neck pain are also common symptoms in the disease.

For the diagnosis of musculoskeletal pain to be accurate a careful history of the patient must be taken and a physical examination will be made to determine posture, limb rigidity and gait. Further testing may also be necessary which could include e-rays, bone scans, ultra sound and orthopaedic consultations. Treatment for the pain will depend on whether the pain is due to excessive immobility or rigidity.

Pain caused by Dystonia

Pain associated with Dystonic spasms are usually amongst the most painful symptoms that sufferers of Parkinson’s will encounter. This type of pain is brought about due to the forceful, twisting posture which Dystonia bring about. Dystonia will affect the limbs, trunk, neck, face, jaw, swallowing muscles and vocal chords of the sufferer, one of the most common and painful symptoms is the curling of the toes and feet.

The most important step in diagnosing pain which is due to Dystonia is establishing its relationship to dopaminergic medication prescribed for Parkinson’s. For example does this occur when the medicine reaches peak effect or when it is wearing off?

Treatment for pain relating to Dystonia will vary; early morning treatment can be exercise or be relieved by taking medication. People who suffer from intractable Dystonia may benefit from deep brain stimulation which involves implanting electrodes in the brain and activating them.

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One Comment

  1. I was diagnosed with parkinson or parkinsonism. I take carbidopia/lavidopia and mirapax and balcofen. I have lately been experiencing severe back (spinal) pain terribly and both hips pain terribly. I can’t rest due to this pain and I take a mild sleeping pill. It hurts to sit, lay down and my walking is slow. My tremors though in my hands over the years have stopped. I don’t know why but they have. I have muscle spasms in leg (jerking) that is why I take balcofen also. I just wonder do I really have parkinson disease. My mother died of MS at the age of 35 or 36. Had it awfully. She was diagnosed with it when she was pregnant with me. I am now 56 years old and was told about parkinson’s at the age I think I was 48 or 49. Where did the tremors go in my hands? Or does the medication stop this? I just woke up one morning and they were gone. I had them for years and was getting worse and then just stopped. But other things started happening more. Can tremors go away or will they return or is it even possible I don’t even have parkinson’s? That in itself is very stressfull. I know something is wrong with my body and all over health. Does the medication cause all these problems and I may just be okay? But one the thing I do know and that is I am in severe pain and it is hard to tolerate it. Appreciating your comment, Linda Scott, Respectfully……….

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