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.

Pain can occur with, for example, Alzheimer’s, Lewy body, Parkinson’s, vascular and fronto-temporaldementia. To find out more about the diseases, click here.

Learn about parkinsons

Touch therapy