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Parkinson's disease symptoms

What are the symptoms of Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease can have physical symptoms, such as shaking or tremors, it can affect moods and behaviour and may alter what should be automatic systems in the body such as breathing.

Early symptoms of Parkinson's disease usually appear gradually and are mild to begin with.

A person may experience fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness. There might be a slight tremor or difficulty standing. Some may notice that their speech has become softer or that their handwriting has changed. You may forget a word or thought and have feelings of depression or anxiety.

Other people may notice the symptoms before the person with Parkinson's disease. These may include a stiffening or lack of movement, or a lack of facial expressions, known as masked face.
Handwriting may become smaller.

As the disease progresses, it begins to interrupt daily activities. However, it is important to note that not all people with Parkinson's disease experience the full range of symptoms. In fact, most people with Parkinson's disease have mild, non-intrusive symptoms.

What are common symptoms of Parkinson's disease?

  • Muscle Rigidity. Rigidity is the inability for the muscles to relax normally. Rigidity is seen when the doctor moves an arm or leg. Rarely, people with Parkinson's will feel stiff. Most people with the disease develop some degree of rigidity, or stiffness of limbs. This rigidity is caused by uncontrolled tensing of muscles and inhibits your ability to move about freely. Also, you may experience aches or pains from affected muscles.
  • Tremor. In general, tremor (shaking) begins in the hands and arms, although it can also occur in the jaw or foot. Tremor typically involves the rubbing of the thumb against the forefinger ("pin-rolling" or "pill-rolling"), and is more apparent when the hand is at rest, or you are under stress. In the early stages of the disease it usually only affects one side of the body or one limb. As Parkinson's progresses, tremor may affect other parts of the body. Not everyone with Parkinson's disease has tremor.
  • Bradykinesia. Bradykinesia is the slowing down of movement and the gradual loss of spontaneous activity. It is caused by the brain's slowness in transmitting the necessary instructions to the appropriate parts of the body. This symptom is especially stressful for people with Parkinson's, given that it is unpredictable and can be quickly disabling. One moment a person is moving easily, the next they need help moving at all. This makes simple tasks and daily routines extremely difficult. Bradykinesia affecting the facial muscles may cause the mask-like appearance seen in Parkinson's.
  • Changes in walking (gait). This commonly includes inability to swing the arms naturally while walking, taking short shuffling steps, "freezing spells" (difficulty starting to walk and in stopping), and difficulty in manoeuvering turns and corners.


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