Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

There are several symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, most of the affecting motor functions of the nervous system. Parkinsons disease is a progressive degenerative disease, meaning that the cell death and resulting dysfunction in the brain begin slowly and continue in a progressive way. They slowly get more pronounced over time. Therefore, Parkinson's disease symptoms generally present slowly and subtly. As time progresses the symptoms will become more pronounced and severe. Additionally, further symptoms that were not first evident can become apparent.

The classic "triad" of symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia because they are common in patients with the disease and are some of the first symptoms to present.

Tremor is an involuntary shaking of the body, usually most pronounced at rest (called a "resting tremor"). Other forms of tremor sometimes seen include a "pill-rolling" tremor.

Rigidity is an increased tone of muscles, meaning the passive movement of the extremities (arms or legs) is more difficult than normal.

Bradykinesia means "slow movement". Most movements are slowed. This can particularly affect fine motor control, making fine motor skills quite difficult. This can also be evident in the general lack of excessive movements, such as decreased expressive gestures (waving hands when talking, etc.) and decreased facial movement and facial expressions (sometimes described as "masked" face).

Other symptoms include freezing (sudden cessation of movement), akinesia (difficulty initiating movements), inbalance, impaired posture, speech changes, abnormal gait (a "shuffling" gate), and others.

As the disease progresses and becomes more severe, these initial symptoms will become more pronounced, but other symptoms may become evident as well. For example, a form of dementia can develop with slowed thinking (bradyphrenia) and problems with memory.

While some of these symptoms are classic symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, many can be caused by other nervous system diseases as well. Therefore, the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease requires a careful assessment by a neurologist to distinguish Parkinsons disease from other similar movement disorders which may cause tremor, rigidity or other such symptoms.

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Important Note: This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.

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