|How is the
"I thought it was
my age, but the doctor examined me and knew straight away that it was
- Making the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease
(PD) can be difficult. There are no special tests that are used routinely
and the doctor reaches the diagnosis after talking with you and looking at
the symptoms that you present. An accurate diagnosis is very important.
- At least two of the three main symptoms
(slowness of movement, muscular stiffness and or/or tremor) must be present
to establish the diagnosis of PD.
- The early symptoms of PD tend to be vague and
it may take time to discover the cause. Common early problems include
tiredness, slowing down, poor balance, or difficulties with handwriting and
these may suggest a number of possible diagnoses.
- Tremor is present in 70 per cent of people
when PD is diagnosed. However, it may be absent, especially in older people.
There are also many causes of tremor other than PD. In some patients with
tremor, a new brain scan ('DAT Scan') may contribute to diagnosis, when
there is doubt.
- PD is the most common cause of 'Parkinsonism',
which is the description used for people with stiffness, slowness of
movement and tremor. As well as PD, Parkinsonism may be caused by some
drugs, by a condition called Dementia with Lewy Bodies and by other uncommon
neurological conditions, such as Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSA).
- For some people, it may take some months to
discover that their problems are caused by PD. As symptoms progress and
muscles become stiffer, movement slower and tremor more pronounced, the
diagnosis becomes more straightforward.
- Specialist PD doctors see many patients with
the condition. They are more experienced and confident in making the
diagnosis and are best able to advice on best management. Whenever possible,
people with PD should always be referred to a doctor with a special interest
in the condition.
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Your doctor, or specialist nursing staff can
explain more about your current and possible future symptoms.
The Parkinson's Disease Society (telephone 020
7931 8080) can also provide information http://www.parkinsons.org.uk
Useful books include:
'Parkinson's At Your Finger Tips' by Marie Oxtoby
and Adrian Williams, published in 2002 by Glass Publications, London. ISBN 1
872362 96 6
Useful Websites include:
Adrienne Coles Info Office
Worldwide Education and Awareness for Movement
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