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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Frequently Asked Questions About Parkinson's Disease

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Print out these questions and answers to discuss with your doctor.

1. Is There a Cure for Parkinson's Disease?

Although research is ongoing, to date there is no known cure or way to prevent Parkinson's disease. Still, research in Parkinson's disease has made remarkable progress. There is very real hope that the causes, whether genetic or environmental, will be identified and the precise effects of these causes on brain function will be understood. These remarkable achievements give real hope for the future.

Even though there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, by identifying individual symptoms and determining a proper course of treatment, most people with the disease can live enjoyable, fulfilling lives.

2. What Causes Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is caused by the progressive impairment or deterioration of neurons (nerve cells) in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. When functioning normally, these neurons produce a vital brain chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine serves as a chemical messenger allowing communication between the substantia nigra and another area of the brain called the corpus striatum. This communication coordinates smooth and balanced muscle movement. A lack of dopamine results in abnormal nerve functioning, causing a loss in the ability to control body movements.

3. Can Parkinson's Be Prevented?

To date, there is no known way to prevent Parkinson's disease. But, there are several treatment options, including drug therapy and/or surgery that can reduce the symptoms, and make living with the disease easier.

4. What Is the Difference Between Tremors and Parkinson's Disease?

The most common cause of tremor (involuntary shaking) is a condition called essential tremor. Both essential tremor (ET) and Parkinson's disease (PD) are movement disorders. A movement disorder can be defined as any disease or injury that interferes with an individual's movement.

ET and PD are different conditions but are sometimes associated because they share many features.

Essential tremor is a disease of the body's system of nerves characterized by tremors. Areas affected most often include the hands, arms, head, and sometimes the voice. Essential tremor does not affect life expectancy, but it can become disabling for many common activities, such as writing and eating. ET also does not increase the risk for Parkinson's disease.

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