Skip to content

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Parkinson's Disease - Exams and Tests

A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is based on your medical history and a thorough neurological exam.

Your doctor also may check your sense of smell.

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 > >

In some cases, your doctor will have you try a medicine for Parkinson's disease. If that medicine helps your symptoms, it may help the doctor find out if you have the disease.


There are no lab tests that can diagnose Parkinson's.

But if your doctor isn't sure you have Parkinson's, he or she may do certain tests to see if you have another condition with similar symptoms.

For instance, blood tests may be done to check for abnormal thyroid hormone levels or liver damage. An imaging test (such as a CT scan or an MRI) may be used to check for signs of a stroke or brain tumor.

Another type of imaging test, called PET, sometimes may detect low levels of dopamine in the brain, a key feature of Parkinson's. But PET scanning isn't commonly used to evaluate Parkinson's because it's very expensive, not available in many hospitals, and only used experimentally.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 18, 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.
    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
    Questions Doctor Parkinsons
    Eating Right
    Parkinsons Exercise
    daughter consoling depressed mother
    senior man's hands
    Parkinsons Daily

    WebMD Special Sections