Is there a cure for Parkinson’s disease?
Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s. Great discoveries are being made that will likely point researchers toward the underlying causes of the disease. As the environmental and genetic factors become more clear, we are hopeful that targeted medications and interventions will bring us closer to a cure in the years ahead.
Can Parkinson’s be prevented?
Patients often want to know if something they did caused them to have Parkinson’s. We simply don’t yet know what causes the majority of cases of Parkinson’s disease. Perhaps it is an interaction of environmental factors and genetic predisposition. Until we have more clearly identified risk factors, we cannot prevent anyone from getting Parkinson’s.
Is there a difference between Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor?
Parkinson’s and essential tremor are two different disorders that share tremor as a major feature. The exact nature of the tremor, however, is very different and can usually be distinguished by a movement disorder specialist. A small number of patients have both essential tremor and Parkinson’s but usually it is one or the other. Knowing which one a patient has is important because treatments are different.
If I undergo deep brain stimulation surgery, how soon after will my symptoms improve?
About two weeks after the brain surgery, the pacemakers will be turned on and programming will begin. Many patients experience very rapid improvement in many of their symptoms. Other symptoms can take a few months to improve. The programming of the pacemaker is a very individually tailored experience so predictions of improvement vary based on the type and severity of symptoms being treated. In general, however, most patients should certainly hope for significant improvement by six months from the date of the surgery.
Does essential tremor increase the risk for Parkinson’s disease?
A small percentage of people with essential tremor do develop some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease after many years. Most patients with essential tremor, however, do not develop Parkinson’s.
When will my Huntington’s symptoms begin to show?
It is impossible to predict when the symptoms of Huntington’s will develop. This can cause a great deal of anxiety for individuals who know the Huntington’s disease gene status. For this reason, it is recommended that both symptomatic and non-symptomatic individuals with Huntington’s or those who are at risk for Huntington’s consider routine visits to a movement disorder center. A specialist can review your condition and discuss any changes or potential treatments.
If Huntington’s disease runs in the family, can I be tested?
Yes. Whether you want to be tested or not is a personal choice. You should discuss the possibility of being tested with an experienced counselor and geneticist who can discuss the test options and help you make the best decision.
Are there warning signs for dystonia?
Dystonia can begin very subtly. Early symptoms can be a mild turning in of a hand or foot, sometimes at rest and sometimes during a specific task. Mild cramping doing tasks that didn’t previously cause cramping is another possible sign. If you are finding it much harder to do something specific (like playing an instrument or writing) you might want to have it evaluated.
Can I get involved with research studies for my disease?
Northwell Health is involved in research for many movement disorders, including Parkinson’s, atypical Parkinsonian syndromes, essential tremor, Huntington’s disease, dystonia and Tourette’s syndrome. There are often several studies going on in all these areas; some involve promising new medications or surgeries, some involve using brain imaging, genetic testing and clinical examinations to get a better understanding of the causes and potential cures for these disorders. If you are interested in advancing our understanding of your disorder, we encourage you to meet with one of our specialists and learn about possible research opportunities.