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What are the symptoms of Parkinson's disease?





"Involuntary tremulous motion, with lessened muscular power, in parts not in action and even when supported; with a propensity to bend the trunk forward, and to walk from a walking to a running pace: the senses and intellect being uninjured"


  • The main symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) are slowness of movement, muscular stiffness or rigidity, tremor or shaking, and poor posture and balance.

  • You will find that the symptoms develop slowly and gradually progress over years, but are greatly helped by drug treatment.

  • Tremor is the most well known symptom of PD, but it is absent in one third of people when the condition is first diagnosed. Tremor usually begins in one hand and then spreads to the leg, before crossing to the other side. it may also be felt internally. Typically it is most noticeable at rest and when stressed or tired and disappearing during movement and when asleep.

  • Slowness, or lack of movement (termed akinesia) is present in all people with PD. They tend to walk more slowly, with a tendency to shuffle. Akinesia may also become apparent as reduced blinking of the eyes, lack of facial expression, or reduced arm swing when walking. Hesitancy on starting to walk or approaching doorways (Freezing) may occur later on. Everyday movements like getting dressed and handwriting become more difficult.

  • Stiffness or rigidity in the muscles is a very common early sign of PD. Turning over in bed, getting out of a chair, fastening buttons and carrying out other everyday tasks becomes more difficult.

  • Poor balance and posture leads to a tendency to stoop and falls.

  • Other symptoms in some patients includes pain and discomfort in an arm or leg, anxiety and depression, slowness of thinking and memory problems and tiredness and disturbed sleep. Constipation is common and bladder problems, especially a tendency to pass water more frequently and with more urgency, may occur. Sexual and swallowing problems tend to become more of a problem later in the illness.

  • Drugs for PD can be very effective in treating the lack of movement and stiffness, but may themselves cause side effects. Sleep disturbance, hallucinations and confusion, and abnormal spontaneous movements (Dyskinesias) can be particular problems.

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Further Information

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 detailed 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 87236296 6

Useful Websites are:





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This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris