[eli5] how does Parkinson’s work? does it happen when you flex certain body muscles?

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[eli5] how does Parkinson’s work? does it happen when you flex certain body muscles?

In: Biology

Parkinson’s attacks the neurons and nerve receptors in the brain. It causes a rapid decay and alters the natural cycle of death and rebirth our cells naturally experience (although this decays as we get older). Because of this as our neurons, the cells responsible for sending movement signals to our muscles, become impaired and unable to perform to what we want them to do or create dopamine, a reason for the movement issues (like trembling). The rest of the mind hasn’t deteriorated yet as fast as the muscles so it creates a very clear disjunction and acute awareness that the body isn’t doing as it is told. Parkinson’s also impacts the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, this is the main chemical responsible for maintaining the sympathetic nervous system that moderates blood pressure, heart rate etc. This loss explains the digestive and fatigue issues regularly recorded and stated. Parkinson’s is a horrid degenerative disease and I hope that noone you or I know experience it.

Actually, PD doesn’t start with the muscles you’re flexing, but the muscles that aren’t actively moving. A structure in your brain called the Pars Compacta of the Substantia Nigra stops sending dopamine to something called the Striatum. That structure in response stops correctly regulating the neural pathway that keeps idle muscles from twitching. People with PD typically first notice a tremor in one of their arms that seems to go away when they use it to pick up a pencil and write or grab a glass of water. However, when they have the glass in their hand the tremors come back until they move to put the glass back down or take a sip. In later stages, you could have a patient who can barely walk 3 steps and has full-body tremors, but can ride a bike as easily as anyone else. This was the case for Michael J. Fox (from Back to the Future) who developed early onset PD. He was a mess until he went onto the ice rink. He could skate perfectly fine. However, at his current stage, that’s no longer possible.