Symptoms of Parkinson's disease differ from person to person. They also change as the disease progresses. Symptoms that one person gets in
the early stages of the disease, another person may not get until later—or
not at all.
Symptoms typically begin
appearing between the ages of 50 and 60. They develop slowly and often go
unnoticed by family, friends, and even the person who has them.
Usually, the outward symptoms of Parkinson's are distinctive enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis in the office. There is no blood test or brain scan that confirms the diagnosis. But if you don't respond to the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, it’s possible you may have another type of movement disorder that causes the same type of symptoms. Doing additional tests can help your doctor determine if some other problem is causing your parkinsonian symptoms.
The disease causes motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms. Motor symptoms are those that have to do with how you move. The most common one is tremor.
Tremor, or shaking, often in a hand,
arm, or leg, occurs when you're
awake and sitting or standing still (resting tremor), and it gets better when you move that body part.
Tremor is often the first symptom that people with
Parkinson's disease or their family members notice.
At first the tremor may
appear in just one arm or leg or only on one side of the body. The tremor also
may affect the chin, lips, and tongue.
As the disease progresses, the tremor
may spread to both sides of the body. But in some cases the tremor remains
on just one side.
Emotional and physical stress tends to make the
tremor more noticeable. Sleep, complete relaxation, and intentional movement or
action usually reduce or stop the tremor.
Although tremor is one
of the most common signs of Parkinson's, not everyone with tremor has
Parkinson's. Unlike tremor caused by Parkinson's, tremor caused
by other conditions gets better when your arm or hand is not moving and gets
worse when you try to move it.
The most common cause of non-Parkinson's tremor
is essential tremor. It's a treatable condition that is often
wrongly diagnosed as Parkinson's.
Other common symptoms
Besides tremor, the most common symptoms
Stiff muscles (rigidity) and aching muscles. One of the most
common early signs of Parkinson's is a reduced arm swing on one side
when you walk. This is caused by rigid muscles. Rigidity can also
affect the muscles of the legs, face, neck, or other parts of the body. It may
cause muscles to feel tired and achy.
Slow, limited movement,
especially when you try to move from a resting
position. For instance, it may be hard to get out of a chair or turn over
Weakness of face and throat muscles. It may get harder to talk and swallow. You may choke, cough, or
drool. Speech becomes softer and monotonous. Loss of movement in the muscles in
the face can cause a fixed, vacant facial expression, often called the
Difficulty with walking and
balance. A person with this disease is likely to
take small steps and shuffle with his or her feet close together, bend forward
slightly at the waist, and have trouble turning around.
Balance and posture problems may cause frequent falls. But these
problems usually don't happen until later on.
FreezingFreezing, a sudden, brief inability to move. It most
often affects walking.
small number of people have symptoms on only one side of the body that never
move to the other side.