Stiffness is sometimes present during the early stages of Parkinson’s disease with dementia or vascular dementia. Many people in the moderate and severe stages are stiff and have Parkinson-like symptoms. This is understood to be due to the spread of nerve cell death to the dopamine system in the brain, which regulates motor movement.
- In the severe stages, the patient may be affected by spasms resulting from discharges in the damaged brain tissue. These spasms can often be alleviated by using antispasmodic medication.
- Involuntary twitching of the muscles – or myoclonus as it is known in the medical profession – can occur in the severe stage of dementia. These muscle twitches require no treatment provided that they do not appear to be distressing to the patient.
- Contractures – whereby, for example, it is not possible to straighten the fingers – are common in the later stages. Here, we need to keep the joints moving using suppling-up exercises. Painkilling medication may be needed before starting the exercises.
Good advice for handling pain:
- Start by finding out why the person is in pain.
- You could try relieving the pressure.
- Use aids such as a heated cushion if, for example, the person has pain in the stomach.
- Massage and touch can alleviate pain. Find out more about touch therapy here.
- If necessary, use painkilling medication after taking advice from your doctor.