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Fatigue: a common, yet under-recognized symptom in people with Parkinson’s Disease



Fatigue can be described as having decreased energy or an increased perception of effort that does not match the attempted activity. For example, feeling like you’ve just run a mile when you’ve only walked down the block.

Fatigue is one of the most common and disabling non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It can start in the very beginning of the disease before someone experiences motor symptoms and can progress over time.

Fatigue can deeply affect someone’s quality of life by decreasing a person’s ability to participate in social events, work, or hobbies. It is often under assessed so it is important to discuss it with your physician if you are experiencing fatigue.

Why am I experiencing more fatigue with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and what can I do to treat it?

Along with being under recognized, fatigue in PD is also not well understood. Research has shown evidence to support that fatigue is not associated with decreased dopamine levels. Instead, fatigue could be a result of a disturbance in how serotonin — a different chemical in the brain — works causing increased inflammation and an interruption in the connections between different parts of the brain.

Not having a full understanding of the cause of fatigue in people with PD makes treatment of their fatigue difficult as well. Research has found conflicting evidence about the use of medications — specifically Levadopa/carbidopa and antidepressants — to treat fatigue in PD. For some people, use of these medications have shown to improve fatigue symptoms but more research is needed.

For more information on how working with a physical or occupational therapist can help you better manage your fatigue and live your best life call Engage Therapy and Wellness at 315-810-2423.

References

  1. Siciliano M, Trojano L, Santangelo G, De Micco R, Tedeschi G, Tessitore A. Fatigue in Parkinson's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Mov Disord. 2018;33(11):1712-1723. doi:10.1002/mds.27461

  2. Lazcano-Ocampo C, Wan YM, van Wamelen DJ, et al. Identifying and responding to fatigue and apathy in Parkinson's disease: a review of current practice. Expert Rev Neurother. 2020;20(5):477-495. doi:10.1080/14737175.2020.1752669

  3. Wang H, Liu Y, Zhao J, Guo X, Hu M, Chen Y. Possible inflammatory mechanisms and predictors of Parkinson's disease patients with fatigue (Brief Review). Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2021;208:106844. doi:10.1016/j.clineuro.2021.106844

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