Parkinson’s disease (PD) is typically viewed as a movement disorder that causes tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia. Unfortunately, one of the most common and disabling symptoms of the disease is also one of the least understood. Musculoskeletal pain is often cited as a major complaint of PD, and it may develop before the disease is even diagnosed. The pain is believed to be related to musculoskeletal and motor complications from PD. While it can be very difficult to treat, the following suggestions from Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley can help seniors manage the pain.
1. Treat underlying medical conditions
Many seniors with Parkinson’s have unrelated medical conditions, including diabetes, degenerative disc disease (DDD), tendonitis, osteoarthritis, and bursitis. Any of these conditions can cause musculoskeletal pain or aggravate pain related to PD. Treating any comorbidities (concurrent chronic conditions) can help reduce pain levels.
2. Use hot packs for muscle tension
Hot packs, such as microwaveable bags or heating pads, can be an effective treatment for musculoskeletal pain while relieving tension and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Family members or hourly in-home caregivers should apply the heat to the area for about thirty minutes at a time. Avoid cold packs, which are better at treating tendonitis or an acute injury.
3. Get regular exercise
Many people with Parkinson’s disease have trouble moving from one activity to another and the stiffness of the disease can make exercise difficult. This just makes it even more important to find time for regular physical activity. Exercise can improve mobility while also relieving debilitating PD symptoms, including pain. Dancing is recommended for people with PD, as the music provides an external signal to move that helps overcome the lack of an internal signal.
4. Try physiotherapy
Physiotherapy helps reduce PD-related pain caused by the motor symptoms of the disease. Massage therapy in particular helps relieve pain by manipulating tight muscles and painful trigger points.
5. Discuss medication dose and schedule
If nothing seems to help with the pain, sometimes adjusting the dosage and schedule of medication can help. In many cases, the musculoskeletal pain fluctuates with the disease’s motor symptoms. When the Parkinson’s symptoms are controlled, the pain that comes from the motor symptoms also improves.
If Parkinson’s is making daily living challenging for your senior loved one, reach out to Home Care Assistance. As a leading provider of Lehigh Valley Parkinson’s care, we can provide your loved one support with a wide range of activities, including running errands, cooking, bathing, grooming, incontinence, and physical therapy exercises among other things. For more information or to schedule a free in-home consultation, call 484-350-3874 and speak with a friendly Care Manager.