People who suffer from Parkinson's disease often experience muscle rigidity especially in the arms, legs and shoulder muscles. One of the first symptoms experienced by Parkinson's patient is severe pain in the shoulder and stiffness. Muscle rigidity can either be unilateral i.e. only one side of the body is affected or it can be bilateral i.e. both the sides are affected. Other than muscles, rigidity can also be experienced in ankles, neck, hips and trunk. In addition, both extensor and flexor muscles get equally affected in Parkinson's disease. Patient experience difficulty in performing normal body movement and thus the extent of rigidity increases. This symptom ultimately leads to severe discomfort and pain in the body muscles.

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Does Parkinson's Cause Muscle Atrophy?

Muscle rigidity in Parkinson's disease can cause muscle atrophy, it further also impact the every activity of routine life. Rigidity can affect the voluntary movement of the body which in turn can make simple things like walking or turning also very difficult. This is not the end, eating and getting up from chair also becomes a heavy task. (1)

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Fortunately, timely and proper treatment can drastically improve the quality of life for majority of people. Along with medication support and motivation from the family members and friends plays a crucial role. As mentioned above person suffering from Parkinson's disease may find it difficult to change facial expression and end up having a blank expression. Hence, family remembers and friends need to understand this problem and not judge the patient on this simple and uncontrolled thing.

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Muscle Atrophy Symptoms

As the rigidly of muscles increases the discomfort in the body movement also increases, which leads a lot of other health problems such as:

  • One may find it very difficult to stretch their legs or arms, this means that individual will have to take smaller steps while walking and will not be able to freely swing the hands while walking. This can also affect the balance mechanism of the individual.
  • One may also find it very difficult to perform small body movements like buttoning a shirt or eating.
  • When doctor examine the body by moving the arm and leg of the patient, they may feel it jerky. Instead, of smooth movements.
  • This rigidity can lead to curved spin and you may bend down. This posture can lead to more stiffness and increases the risk of falling down because of balance loss.
  • In some severe condition, one may find it difficult to make normal face expressions. This leads to blank facial expression, which can adversely affect ones relationship. Facial expression portrays the inner feelings of the individual and with blank face people find it extremely wired.
  • Another fact is that rigidity makes the involuntary body movements even worst, especially when only one side of the body is affected. For instance, if the patient is experiencing stiffness in right arm, then the condition becomes difficult when they use their left arm.
  • Muscles cramps and pain are common symptoms Parkinson's disease.

These symptoms may vary from one individual to another. Some patient may not experience any of the above mentioned symptoms while some may experience all of them. This is progressive disease i.e. as the illness becomes severe so the problems will also get worst.

Lifestyle Changes For Muscle Atrophy

Along with medication making some positive changes in the lifestyle can be of great help in coping up with the physical limitations in movement. Instead of blaming god and others for the problem, it is better to adapt with the condition and look for ways to improve. One very common problem, which almost all the people suffering from Parkinson's disease face is getting up and sit in the chair. However, having a lifted chair or customizable chair can be of great help to cope with this physical limitation; similarly, making a use of physical support tool while walking can help in maintaining balance and avoiding any fall or injury.

References:

  1. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-rigidity-in-parkinsons-disease-2612097

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 9, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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