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Glossary of Parkinson's Disease Terms


Beta-blockers: Drugs that block the action of the hormone epinephrine. Usually used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, they may be effective in the treatment of benign essential tremor (see above).

Bilateral: Occurring on both sides of the body.

Blepharospasm: Spasms of the eyelid, spasmodic blinking, or involuntary closing of the eyelids.

Bradykinesia: Slowing down of movement. It is a major symptom of Parkinson's.

Carbidopa (Lodosyn): A drug that is usually given in combination with a Parkinson's drug called levodopa; the combination is called Sinemet. Carbidopa improves the effectiveness of levodopa and can be used to reduce the side effects of levodopa.

Central nervous system (CNS): The brain and spinal cord.

Cerebellum: Part of the brain that is involved in coordination of movements.

Cerebral cortex: The largest part of the brain, responsible for thought, reasoning, memory, sensation, and voluntary movement.

Chorea: A type of abnormal movement or dyskinesia, characterized by continuing, rapid, dance-like movements. May result from high doses of levodopa and/or long-term levodopa treatment.

Choreoathetosis: A type of abnormal movement or dyskinesia characterized by involuntary jerky snake-like movements usually of the arms.

Cogwheel rigidity: Stiffness in the muscles, with a jerky quality when arms and legs are repeatedly moved.

Constipation: Decreased ability of intestinal muscles to move stool through the bowels, often resulting in difficulty moving the bowels or in very hard stools.

Cryothalamotomy: A surgical procedure where a "super-cooled" probe is inserted deep into the part of the brain called the thalamus in an effort to stop the tremors of Parkinson's. This type of surgery is rarely recommended and has been replaced by deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Deep brain stimulation (DBS): A new surgical procedure that is very effective in treating Parkinson's disease. The surgery includes the implantation of permanent electrodes in various parts of the brain through which continuous pulses of electricity are given to control the symptoms of Parkinson's.

Dementia: The loss of some intellectual abilities, characterized by loss of awareness and confusion.

Deprenyl (Eldepryl, Selegiline, Jumex): A drug that slows the breakdown of important brain chemicals like dopamine. This medication may help slow the progression of Parkinson's disease early in the course of the illness.

Dopamine: A chemical produced by the brain; it assists in the effective transmission of messages from one nerve cell to the next. People with Parkinson's have decreased amounts of the chemical in the basal ganglia and substantia nigra, two structures located deep in the brain. Dopamine coordinates the actions of movement, balance, and walking.

Dopamine agonist: Drugs that copy the effects of the brain chemical dopamine and increase the amount of dopamine that is available to the brain for use.

Dopaminergic: An adjective used to describe a chemical, a drug, or a drug effect related to dopamine.

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