Some symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) are hard for even specialists to detect. Others are obvious even to an untrained eye. And Parkinson's symptoms are different for different patients. Many patients experience some symptoms and not others, and the pace at which the disease worsens varies on an individual basis. Keep in mind that only a doctor can make a Parkinson's diagnosis and that any one symptom of Parkinson's could be caused by other conditions. Visit a movement disorders specialist if you think you may be experiencing Parkinson's symptoms.
People are usually more familiar with the motor symptoms of PD, as these are the signs of the disease that are noticeable from the outside. These symptoms, known as the "cardinal" symptoms of PD, include:
Other motor symptoms also appear in PD:
Doctors are increasingly recognizing the presence and effects of other symptoms of PD that are sometimes called "non-motor symptoms" or "dopamine-non-responsive." These symptoms are common and can have a major impact on Parkinson's patients. They can include:
Even if you experience symptoms common among people with PD, they may in fact be brought on by a different condition. Consult a doctor if you notice a change in your body with no obvious cause. While visiting the doctor, try to be as specific as possible when describing your symptoms. You may be referred to a movement disorders specialist , a neurologist with particular expertise in PD and other movement disorders.
Dr. Joseph Jankovic , a member of the MJFF Scientific Advisory Board , developed the screening questionnaire below to help determine PD and parkinsonism (a range of neurological disorders that resemble PD).
Remember: Parkinson's disease is rare. Even if your answer to several of these questions is yes, it's more likely that you don't have Parkinson's than that you do. The most important step you can take is to see your doctor and get information about what is causing your symptoms.