Bradykinesia means slowness of movement, and it is one of the cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s. You must have bradykinesia plus either Involuntary shaking of the hands, arms, legs, jaw or tongue. The typical Parkinson’s tremor is “pill-rolling” – it looks like holding a pill between thumb and forefinger and continuously rolling it around. Some people report an internal tremor, a shaking sensation inside the chest, abdomen or limbs that cannot be seen. Most Parkinson’s tremor is “resting tremor,” which lessens during sleep and when the body part is actively in use. or In Parkinson’s, stiffness of the arms or legs beyond what would result from normal aging or arthritis. Some people call it “tightness” in their limbs. for a Parkinson’s diagnosis to be considered.
In Parkinson’s, this slowness happens in different ways:
- Reduction of automatic movements (such as blinking or swinging your arms when you walk)
- Difficulty initiating movements (like getting up out of a chair)
- General slowness in physical actions
- The appearance of abnormal stillness or a decrease in facial expression
This translates into difficulty performing everyday functions, such as buttoning a shirt, cutting food or brushing your teeth.
Bradykinesia can be particularly frustrating because it is often unpredictable. One moment you can move easily, while in the next moment you may need help.
Managing Slowness of Movement
Levodopa is the medication most commonly given to control the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s. Dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, and amantadine can also be used alone or in combination with other medications to improve slowness, as well as stiffness and tremor.
If you experience “off” periods – changes in your ability to move, usually related to medication timing – when bradykinesia and other symptoms are worse, adjusting the dose or schedule of your medication could help. Talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medications.
In addition to medications, exercise should be part of your treatment plan for all Parkinson’s symptoms.
Research also suggests that music therapy can reduce bradykinesia.