PD DYSKINESIA: UNDERSTANDING THE JERK

What It Is

Parkinson's disease (PD) dyskinesia is characterized by sudden, uncontrollable, jerking or twisting movements that can worsen over time. Dyskinesia occurs as a result of disease progression and treatment with levodopa medications. It most commonly starts on one side of the body and usually affects the legs before the arms. It can also affect the head, face, neck, torso, or the entire body.

Parkinson's disease dyskinesia symptoms are sudden, uncontrollable or jerking movements
PD Dyskinesia can look like fidgeting, jerking or other movements

What it looks like

Dyskinesia can look like fidgeting, jerking, head bobbing, body swaying, writhing, or "dancing."

What it feels like

Some people with Parkinson's disease say that, in a nutshell, dyskinesia feels like a bit of a jerk! It can be unpredictable, disruptive, and frustrating. The fact that it comes on without warning can make you feel like you don’t have control. And when you’re out in public, dyskinesia can cause embarrassment.

PD dyskinesia can be unpredictable, disruptive and frustrating

“Dyskinesia [is] frustrating because people often want to know what you’re doing or if something has happened to you. It’s something you want to conceal, if you can, in a social setting.”

—Person living with PD dyskinesia, age 56, diagnosed at 52

PD dyskinesia is different from PD symptoms

PD dyskinesia is not a symptom of Parkinson's disease itself and should not be confused with a tremor. A tremor is an involuntary, rhythmic movement that looks like shaking and mainly affects the arms or legs when at rest. It usually starts in the hand used most often and, over time, travels to the opposite hand or the same side of the body.

Other symptoms of Parkinson's disease that are not related to dyskinesia include:

Slowness of movement,
or bradykinesia

Stiffness of the limbs
and torso, or
rigidity

Impaired balance and
coordination, or
postural instability

DID YOU KNOW?

The most common type of dyskinesia happens when your levodopa medications are at their highest levels in your bloodstream, called “peak-dose” dyskinesia

HEAR FROM OTHERS
GOING THROUGH IT

It's not uncommon to experience stigma when you have PD dyskinesia, but you are not alone.

THIS IS BRADY

Brady lives with PD dyskinesia and it can be a jerk—watch him share one of those moments.

THIS IS LAURA

Brady's wife and care partner shares her thoughts about his PD dyskinesia.

THIS IS Dr. Dewey

Dr. Dewey and Brady talk about PD dyskinesia and how it differs from tremors.

PD DYSKINESIA OR TREMOR?

PD dyskinesia can sometimes be mistaken for a tremor. Dr. Dewey explains the difference between the two.

DYSKINESIA affects
many PEOPLE WITH PD

Parkinson's disease affects almost 1 million people in the US and is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to more than double by 2030.

In the US, PD dyskinesia affects approximately 150,000 to 200,000 people and will continue to rise with the increasing number of people with PD.

dyskinesia can occur as early as
7 Months after starting PD treatment

7 to 12 months
8%
13 to 24 months
26%
4 to 6 years
39%
9 to 15+ years
88%

DID YOU KNOW?

After 4 years, almost 40% of those on levodopa medications develop dyskinesia. Occurrence of dyskinesia reaches nearly 90% after a decade

Dopamine concentration plays a role in the symptoms of PD dyskinesia

Dopamine and LEVODOPA

While no one knows the full story of why dyskinesia occurs, researchers found a link between dyskinesia and levels of dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine plays an important role in coordinating movement and balance. As Parkinson's disease (PD) gets worse, the brain makes less and less dopamine, requiring levodopa medications to help replace the dopamine that is lost. Levodopa medications are the gold standard of treating PD. People treated with levodopa earlier experience greater movement control than those who wait.

However, because levodopa medications have to be taken several times a day, dopamine levels rise and fall throughout the day. These changes in dopamine levels can lead to episodes of dyskinesia.

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