Signs & Symptoms of Parkinsons Disease

The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are divided into two main categories. There are the primary symptoms, which are caused due to the disease itself, and then there are the secondary symptoms that do not really stem from the condition but are precipitate and are associated with the primary signs and symptoms.

The primary symptoms of the disease are associated with both voluntary and involuntary motor functioning. At first, the symptoms remain mild; however, as the brain degenerates more, these symptoms become more pronounced as well as complicated. The symptoms are also experienced differently by different people. Some of the characteristic primary symptoms include:

  • Tremors in the Limbs: You may experience slight tremors in the fingers, hands, arms, feet and toes. In advanced stages, people also experience tremors in their jaws, head and other parts of the body. In most of the cases, the tremors worsen and become visible. These tremors often get worse when you are experiencing heightened emotions and excitement.
  • Rigidity in the Body: Apart from the tremors, people also often experience rigidity in the limbs as well as in other parts of the body. While rigidity may cause a lack of movement, it often causes numbness and muscle pain. You may also experience cramping in the body.
  • Loss of fine Motor Skills: Hand movements may get severely restricted. If there is cramping in the body, it may become difficult to eat and the person becomes malnourished. Writing and performing other fine motor activities may also become very difficult.
  • Rigidity in Voluntary Movements: A condition known as bradykinesia, this symptom is characterized by experiencing increasing slowness in voluntary responses. There may be a lot of stiffness, even in the facial muscles. The person may sit expressionless for hours and may develop a masked appearance.
  • Postural Instabilities: Apart from the trembling and rigidity of the body, you may also experience a loss of balance. Your reflexes become impaired, and the instability of your posture may cause you to fall.
  • Shuffling Gait: This is a condition characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. Also known as Parkinsonian gait, this is a condition where the patient develops a distinct shuffling gait. The body may become stooped and the rigidity may also diminish swinging of the arms. It may also become very difficult for you to make turns.

Apart from these primary symptoms, there are also some secondary symptoms that may affect you. The progressive loss of muscle control can cause a lot of other symptoms as well. These symptoms may not always be present in all patients who have Parkinson’s disease. Some of these include:

  • Anxiety: Due to the limitations of muscle movements and loss of muscle coordination, patients often experience deepening anxiety. They may also be very stressed and feel insecure all the time.
  • Decreasing Mental Acuity: Due to the degeneration of the brain cells, a person may have diminished mental capacity. Patients may experience dementia, loss of memory or general confusion.
  • Depression: The lack of motor skills and mobility may prevent a person from having a thriving social life. This may also prevent the person from venturing out of the house, therefore causing depression and mood swings.
  • Other secondary symptoms include constipation, difficulty in swallowing, excessive drooling, decreased olfactory senses, increased sweating, rashes and skin problems, incontinence, monotonous voice and slow speech. Some men may experience erectile dysfunction as well.


Frequently asked questions
  1. Jay M. Gorell, Edward L. Peterson, Benjamin A. Rybicki, Christine Cole Johnson, Multiple risk factors for Parkinson's disease, Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Volume 217, Issue 2, 15 February 2004, Pages 169-174, ISSN 0022-510X, 10.1016/j.jns.2003.09.014.
  2. J. Pagonabarraga, Parkinson’s Disease: Definition, Diagnosis, and Management, In: Editors-in-Chief:  Katie Kompoliti and Leo Verhagen Metman, Editor(s)-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Movement Disorders, Academic Press, Oxford, 2010, Pages 405-412, ISBN 9780123741059, 10.1016/B978-0-12-374105-9.00061-7.