Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, and balancing difficulty. It also affects the coordination of a person and as the disease progresses, it causes a person to have trouble speaking and walking. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. But, in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary from person to person. Symptoms often begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on that side. This may include:
- Tremor. It begins in the limbs often your fingers and hands. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth, known as a pill-rolling tremor.
- Slowed movement. Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk.
- Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of the body and it can be painful and limit your range of motion.
- Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
- Loss of automatic movements. Parkinson’s disease may reduce your ability to perform unconscious movements such as blinking or swinging your arms when walking.
- Speech changes. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual inflections. This includes slurred speech and other speaking troubles.
Testing for Parkinson’s Disease
There are no specific testing methods to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Neurologists often diagnose Parkinson’s disease based on medical history, a review of the signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination.
Most neurologists may recommend specific single-photon emission computerized tomography scans to support the suspicion of having Parkinson’s disease. However, it is your symptoms and neurologic examination that ultimately determine the correct diagnosis.
Other Testing for Parkinson’s Disease and other Conditions
Doctors may also rule out laboratory testing such as blood tests to determine the causes of the symptoms and other conditions. MRI, ultrasound of the brain, and PET can also help rule out other disorders. Imaging tests aren’t particularly helpful for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.
Further Recommendations for Testing Parkinson’s Disease
In addition to your examination, your doctor may give you medications for Parkinson’s. You must be given a sufficient dose to show the benefit, as low doses for a day or two are not reliable. Your diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease will often be confirmed if you experience significant improvement with this medication.
Sometimes it takes time to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Neurologists trained in movement disorders may recommend regular follow-ups to evaluate your symptoms and confirm Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease has no cure but there are medications and other medical methods that can manage the symptoms. If you or someone in the family are showing symptoms, ensure to go to the nearest medical provider for testing.