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How does posture change with Parkinson’s?

Saturday April 21, 2012

Posture changes for many reasons- Some causes are related to Parkinson’s- Some related to weakness-Some related to arthritic changes

  • Bent Posture.  A tendency to bend or flex forward is the most common change in posture seen with Parkinson’s disease. There can also be a tendency to flex or bend to one side. It is not known why this occurs but may be due to many factors including muscle rigidity, brain changes that control posture or dystonia. Muscle rigidity (stiffness) and imbalance of bigger muscles overpowering the smaller muscles can cause you to bend over. The muscles that flex, or forward bend the spine or hip may become hyperactive. These muscles that flex your spine forward and limit hip mobility include: the abdominal muscles, psoas major and minor and iliacus muscles.
  • Change in Awareness of Posture.  As with many motor symptoms, there can also be a change in postural awareness or your own perceptions of change. When this occurs, you may feel like your posture is straight but it is not. This is similar to what happens with speech (you feel like you are talking loud but your speech is actually soft). Standing straight may seem like an over correction and may sometimes make you feel like you are falling backwards.
  • Camptocormia- a severe but uncommon problem. This is another severe but less common posture problem than can occur with Parkinson Disease. It is a severe bending of the thoracolumbar spine or lower back, which is seen during standing and walking and improves while lying flat. This may be severe enough that the upper back is parallel to the floor making it hard to look up or see what’s ahead. A patient with camptocormia is bent forward and possibly rotated to one side while standing, less bent while sitting and able to lie flat on a bed or floor.  Learn more...

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Medical Director, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation

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