Information for Patients
Also called: Paralysis agitans, Shaking palsy
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a type of movement disorder. It happens when nerve cells in the brain don't produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine. Sometimes it is genetic, but most cases do not seem to run in families. Exposure to chemicals in the environment might play a role.
Symptoms begin gradually, often on one side of the body. Later they affect both sides. They include
- Trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
- Stiffness of the arms, legs and trunk
- Slowness of movement
- Poor balance and coordination
As symptoms get worse, people with the disease may have trouble walking, talking, or doing simple tasks. They may also have problems such as depression, sleep problems, or trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
There is no lab test for PD, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors use a medical history and a neurological examination to diagnose it.
PD usually begins around age 60, but it can start earlier. It is more common in men than in women. There is no cure for PD. A variety of medicines sometimes help symptoms dramatically. Surgery and deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help severe cases. With DBS, electrodes are surgically implanted in the brain. They send electrical pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain that control movement.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Deep brain stimulation (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Parkinson disease (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Secondary parkinsonism (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Swallowing problems (Medical Encyclopedia)
Parkinson disease Parkinson disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. The disorder affects several regions of the brain, especially an area called the substantia nigra that controls balance and movement.Often the first symptom of Parkinson disease is trembling or shaking (tremor) of a limb, especially when the body is at rest. Typically, the tremor begins on one side of the body, usually in one hand. Tremors can also affect the arms, legs, feet, and face. Other characteristic symptoms of Parkinson disease include rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and torso, slow movement (bradykinesia) or an inability to move (akinesia), and impaired balance and coordination (postural instability). These symptoms worsen slowly over time.Parkinson disease can also affect emotions and thinking ability (cognition). Some affected individuals develop psychiatric conditions such as depression and visual hallucinations. People with Parkinson disease also have an increased risk of developing dementia, which is a decline in intellectual functions including judgment and memory.Generally, Parkinson disease that begins after age 50 is called late-onset disease. The condition is described as early-onset disease if signs and symptoms begin before age 50. Early-onset cases that begin before age 20 are sometimes referred to as juvenile-onset Parkinson disease.