Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease symptoms vary from person to person and may change over time, different symptoms may occur at different stages, and symptoms may get worse as the disease progresses. Learn More ›

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD or, simply, Parkinson's) is the most common form of parkinsonism, a group of motor system disorders. It is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is usually associated with the following symptoms, all of which result from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells:

  • tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs, and face

  • stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk

  • bradykinesia (slowness of movement)

  • postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination

Dopamine is a substance produced in the body which has many effects, including smooth and coordinated muscle movement.

It is incorrectly believed that Parkinson's disease disappeared after the introduction of levodopa (L-dopa) in the 1960s. In fact, about 60,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, with more than 1 million Americans affected at any one time. Further, more people suffer from Parkinson's disease than multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis combined.

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Tremor Symptoms

  • Rest tremors are movements that occur while your body is at rest, such as shaking of the arms or hands while they are supported on your lap. The extent of the tremor increases during mental stress. Rest tremor symptoms are characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Action tremors are movements that occur when the affected body part is performing a voluntary action, such as extending your arms or signing your name. Action tremors can be further classified into postural, isometric, and kinetic tremors based on the specific movements or tasks that trigger the tremor. Action tremor symptoms are characteristic of a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions including essential tremor, drug withdrawal, stroke, brain tumor, and multiple sclerosis. Tremors are also a side effect of a variety of medications.

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Parkinson's disease only affects older adults.