Degenerative diseases are a wide range of diseases caused by the gradual death of certain groups of nerve cells and characterized by a steadily progressive neurological deficit, including movement disorders, psychoemotional and cognitive (up to dementia) disorders, and epileptic seizures. The onset of diseases is almost imperceptible, but they all progress steadily, which can last for decades. The beginning is difficult to trace, the cause cannot be identified. Affected tissues and organs gradually refuse to perform their functions. Diseases of this group are resistant to therapy, treatment is always complex, and rarely effective. More often than not, it does not give the desired results. Degenerative growth can be slowed down, but it is almost impossible to stop it.
Symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases
The symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases depend on the part of the central nervous system involvement. Cerebral cortex degeneration occurs in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), leading mainly to cognitive-behavioral disorders.
In Parkinson’s disease, degenerative disorders occur in dopaminergic cells of the substantia nigra, which are responsible for the proper functioning of the motor pathways of the cortico-subcortical chains. In this case, there is a violation of the main motor character.
Causes of degenerative diseases of the nervous system
The reasons can be very different. In many cases, the specific cause of neurodegenerative diseases is unknown. However, genetics play an important role, as do environmental problems and aging.
Other related reasons could be:
- stroke (CVA)
Types of degenerative diseases
Degenerative diseases include:
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Huntington’s chorea;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
- motor neuron disease.
Common degenerative diseases of the nervous system – Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed in 1 person in 1000. Moreover, neurodegenerative diseases are characteristic not only of the older age group, for example, but dystonic syndromes are also most often observed in the productive age.
Many degenerative diseases are manifested by limited or diffuse atrophy of the brain, in certain structures, there is a microscopic decrease in neurons. In some cases, only a violation of the functions of cells occurs, their death does not occur, and cerebral atrophy does not develop (essential tremor, idiopathic dystonia). In the overwhelming majority of cases, degenerative diseases have long periods of latent development, but a steadily progressive form.
Diagnosis of degenerative diseases
Diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases is difficult. Patients often show mild and ambiguous signs and symptoms, and even imaging results are not always clear. By the time we see unmistakable signs of illness, the patient is often showing sufficient symptoms for a definitive diagnosis.
Over the past four decades, diagnostic imaging has performed a variety of functions in Alzheimer’s research. Computed tomography, later magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), was used to rule out other causes of dementia. More recently, a variety of imaging techniques, including structural and functional MRI and positron emission tomography, have begun to reveal characteristic changes in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, none of the visualization methods are universal, as each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Visualization also plays a role in scientific research, as it helps address many scientific questions and an in-depth understanding of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and its natural dynamics. It is an established drug development tool that is also becoming more relevant in clinical trials for drug testing.
Treatment of degenerative diseases of the nervous system
Most neurodegenerative diseases today are incurable. However, there are treatments for them that can slow the progression of degenerative diseases, these treatments are associated with improving the patient’s well-being and supporting autonomy. Depending on the severity of the disease, medicinal or surgical procedures may be applied.
The diagnosis can cause depression or anxiety, and you may need to see a psychologist. The psychological health of the patient is important both for him and for doctors in order to know how to treat the disease and its consequences. In this way, the level of uncertainty is reduced, which simplifies the mechanisms and treatment strategies.
Rehabilitation for degenerative diseases
Degenerative diseases are characterized by a steady progression that leads to the patient’s disability. Along with drug therapy, complex rehabilitation treatment is an element of monitoring such patients, improving the general functional state and social integration.
The main task is the longest possible preservation of functions: mental, cognitive, motor.
Despite the fact that a complete cure of these pathologies is currently impossible, numerous studies are being carried out on each of them, which gives hope that it will be possible to find ways to at least slow down the progression of degenerative diseases. With degenerative diseases, it is imperative to lead an active lifestyle.