Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by a decrease in dopamine — a neurotransmitter, or cell-signaling molecule, in the body. This decrease can result in problems sending motor commands to muscles. One such problem is akinesia — a lack of movement during regular tasks.

What is akinesia?

Akinesia in Parkinson’s can take many forms. Usually it involves a patient failing to make a movement or making a much smaller version of the movement. Akinesia is sometimes referred to as “freezing” in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Akinesia is usually a symptom of advanced Parkinson’s disease.

These are two types of akinesia: the movement can be so slow and small that it cannot be seen, or the time to initiate the movement can be very long.

Diagnosis of akinesia

Akinesia can be diagnosed during a motor exam as a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. A neurologist or physician can monitor movement when a patient is asked to perform certain tasks, such as walking or finger tapping.

Akinesia can be a symptom of other conditions or disorders. It can be a side effect of a drug that reduces dopamine levels, hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), or progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). A physician will likely review a patient’s medical history and could order additional testing to determine the cause of akinesia.

Managing akinesia

Akinesia symptoms can sometimes be managed with traditional Parkinson’s disease treatments. These treatments could include medications such as levodopa combined with carbidopa. Levodopa is converted to dopamine by the brain; carbidopa helps increase the amount of levodopa that can enter the brain by inhibiting the breakdown of levodopa in the bloodstream.

Another medication that can be taken is an MAO-B inhibitor, which helps prevent the breakdown of dopamine in the body, increasing its levels and reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including akinesia.

Deep brain stimulation is becoming routinely used to reduce the symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease, including akinesia. However, this is an invasive method and should be thoroughly discussed with a physician.

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to manage the pain that sometimes accompanies akinesia stiffness.

Alternative treatments have also shown some success in managing Parkinson’s symptoms, including akinesia. Exercise and meditation/relaxation have been shown to relieve some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Finally, some studies have shown that modifications in diet, including decreasing the intake of protein from meat and dairy and increasing antioxidants (including fisetin) and fiber from plant-based foods can improve symptoms of Parkinson’s. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ 10) used to be prescribed as a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease, but recent study results suggest it has no effect.

***

Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.