Parkinson’s disease (PD) can change the way a person walks. Movement Symptoms like stiff muscles, rigidity and slow movement make it harder to take normal steps. In fact, short, shuffling steps are a common sign of PD, as is freezing, the feeling that your feet are stuck to the floor, for people with mid-stage to advanced PD.
Rigidity, while seldom the main symptom early in Parkinson’s, is experienced as a stiffness of the arms or legs beyond what would result from normal aging or arthritis. Some people call it “tightness” in their limbs. Stiffness can occur on one or both sides of the body and contribute to a decreased range of motion. This can lead to problems with achiness or pain in the muscles or joints affected.
Postural instability is the least treatable of the major movement symptoms of PD, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of falls.
The best approach is to start exercising early and do your best to maintain good posture. Exercise is proven to improve gait and balance and reduce falls.
Bradykinesia means slowness of movement, and it is one of the cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s. You must have bradykinesia plus either tremor or rigidity for a Parkinson’s diagnosis to be considered.
In Parkinson’s, this slowness happens in different ways:
People without PD do not think about their walking. Their arms naturally swing, and their feet naturally land on the heels with each step. They can walk and talk and carry bags, purses and plates of food without difficulty.