One of the most significant symptoms noted in the early stage of Parkinson’s disease is the characteristic tremor, especially of the hands, often referred to as the Parkinson’s tremor. This is among the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and often the main reason why new sufferers seek medical treatment even if they had previously ignored other initial symptoms. A Parkinson’s tremor may vary from mild to severe and is initially noted in the hands, particularly the jaw, although other muscles may be affected, like the jaw muscles.
Initially the Parkinson’s tremor may seem mild and most patients notice it when reading a newspaper or picking up a mug. These early tremors do not prevent functioning in daily tasks but rather interferes with the level of functioning. It initially occurs as episodes lasting from a few minutes to hours and the episodes per week varies in individual cases. An early stage Parkinson’s disease sufferer may try their utmost to hide the tremors from their family, friends or work colleagues but with time, they accept that further medical intervention is needed.
“Pill Rolling” Tremor
The Parkinson’s tremor tends to more often affect the hands and causes a movement sometimes referred to as “pill rolling”. This “pill rolling” ‘tremor’ involves the uncontrolled movement of the thumb and finger(s) in a back and forth motion. This may also appear as the thumb and fingers are rubbing together, hence the term “pill rolling” movement. These tremors are usually rhythmic and may occur between 4 to 5 cycles per second. It may only affect one side of the body, or one hand, but as the disease progresses, the tremor may become more generalized affecting many parts of the body.
Parkinson’s tremors are often worse at rest or when a limb is extended, like holding out the hand. It may also aggravate when tired, excited, stressed or emotional. The tremors often ease significantly or totally go away during movement and this is one of the reasons why new techniques such as stress ball or tennis ball exercises are now used to ease Parkinson’s tremors. These tremors usually go away completely while asleep but quickly return upon waking.
One of the biggest concerns of Parkinson’s sufferers is the extent to which the tremors will affect their job, taking care of themselves in basic daily chores or that of their family. Initially, these tremors are mild and manageable but with time, the tremors may become unbearable. It is therefore essential that treatment for Parkinson’s disease is sought as early as possible as the appropriate medication can significantly reduce the severity of tremors. Alternatively, medication may be able to give the sufferer periods of time with minimal tremors thereby allowing the completion of necessary tasks.
With time, Parkinson’s tremors can become quite debilitating and severely hamper daily functioning. Parkinson’s tremors usually do not entirely disable the patient. Depending on the severity and frequency, the tremors may make the most mundane of tasks a difficult and at times embarrassing experience, especially when the tremors affect other parts of the body, particularly the face.