Skip to content

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Parkinson's Disease - Cause

Low levels of dopamine, a brain chemical involved in controlling movement, cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Low levels happen when nerve cells in a part of the brain that makes dopamine break down. The exact cause of this breakdown isn't known.

Scientists are looking for links between Parkinson's disease and genetics, aging, toxins in the environment, and free radicals. Although these studies are beginning to provide some answers, experts don't know the exact cause of the disease.

Recommended Related to Parkinson's

Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- the Basics

Parkinson's disease mostly affects older people but can also occur in younger adults. The symptoms are the result of the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the portion of the midbrain that controls body movements. The first signs are likely to be barely noticeable -- a feeling of weakness or stiffness in one limb, or a fine trembling of one hand when it is at rest. Eventually, the shaking (tremor) worsens and spreads, muscles become stiffer, movements slow down, and balance and coordination...

Read the Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- the Basics article > >

Only a small percentage of people with Parkinson's have a parent, brother, or sister who has the disease. But abnormal genes do seem to be a factor in a few families where early-onset Parkinson's is common.

There are many other causes of parkinsonism, which is a group of symptoms that includes tremor, muscle stiffness, slow movement, and unsteady walking. Parkinsonism mimics Parkinson's disease, but in fact is not Parkinson's disease.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Parkinsons disease illustration
    Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    hands on walker
    How does the disease progress?
     
    man with serious expression
    8 common questions and answers.
    intelligence quotient illustration
    What are the advantages of DBS?
     
    Parkinsons Disease Medications
    Article
    Questions Doctor Parkinsons
    Article
     
    Eating Right
    Article
    Parkinsons Exercise
    Article
     
    daughter consoling depressed mother
    Article
    senior man's hands
    Article
     
    Parkinsons Daily
    Article
    Acupunture
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections