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Parkinson’s Disease

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Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease progresses slowly, and the first noticeable symptoms are usually a mild weakness or slight tremor in the hands. Early symptoms will gradually increase over time and include:

  • Resting tremors, usually in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Slowness of movement, called bradykinesia
  • Balance problems, instability, loss of coordination
  • Rigidity of movements and muscles

In later stages of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms include:

  • Reduced facial expression, monotone speaking, decrease in blinking of the eyes
  • Reduced arm-swinging while walking
  • Problems swallowing
  • Urinary problems, constipation
  • Skin problems
  • Sleep disruptions

Anyone experiencing neurological symptoms should be evaluated by a skilled neurologist or neurosurgeon, since Parkinson’s disease is often misdiagnosed. Medication can be extremely helpful in managing symptoms in the early stages, and new treatments are emerging that may help slow the progression of the disease.. (See Diagnosing and Treating Parkinson’s Disease.)

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition, and the symptoms often worsen over time. However, the disease can manifest itself in different ways in different people. Some can develop significant disability, while others can lead relatively normal lives with only minor disruptions. It is very difficult to predict how Parkinson’s disease will progress in a particular individual.

The Movement Disorder service of the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and also conducts groundbreaking laboratory research and clinical trials to improve our understanding and treatment of this disorder. Led by pioneering researcher and neurosurgeon Michael Kaplitt, M.D., Ph.D., the Movement Disorder service provides state-of-the-art options for Parkinson’s treatment, including minimally invasive deep brain stimulation surgery. (See Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease.)

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Reviewed by Michael Kaplitt, MD, PhD
Last reviewed/last updated: April 2015