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Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Disease: Introduction

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disease that severely affects the brain. Parkinson's disease results in the destruction of certain nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for smooth, controlled, coordinated body movements. Parkinson's disease is a seriously disabling and devastating disorder that progressively damages and destroys a person's ability to move normally and voluntarily and function independently. Parkinson's disease is not curable.

Parkinson's disease causes an imbalance in two brain chemicals that are vital to controlling normal movements. These chemicals, called dopamine and acetylcholine, organize the transmission of nerve messages from the brain to the motor nerves in the spinal cord that control muscle movement. When there is an imbalance of dopamine and acetylcholine, the messages from the brain are disturbed, resulting in the typical symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The hallmark symptom of Parkinson's disease is trembling or tremor of the hands and feet. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease eventually progress to become severely disabling. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease generally do not occur until late middle age or later in life. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease differ between individuals and are vague and subtle in the early stages of the disease. Complications of Parkinson's disease can include dementia and depression. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

At this time the cause of most cases of Parkinson's disease is not known. Theories about the cause include a combination of genetics and exposure to environmental toxins. Some cases of Parkinson's disease are caused by certain neurological conditions, such as encephalitis and stroke. Parkinson's disease may also occur as a side effect of certain medications or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Making a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease includes taking a thorough personal and family history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This includes a neurological exam. A neurological exam evaluates the nervous system and such functions as reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision and hearing.

A CT or MRI of the brain may also be performed to rule-out other diseases or disorders that can be similar to Parkinson's disease.

A variety of other tests may be performed to evaluate overall heath. Tests can include blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), a chemistry panel, urinanalysis, and blood glucose testing. An EKG may also be done to help evaluate the heart.

It is possible that a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease can be missed or delayed because symptoms start gradually and can mimic symptoms of other diseases and for a variety of other reasons. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is not curable, but there are treatments that can slow the advancement of the disease and help to relieve symptoms. Treatment includes medication and in some cases surgery. Stem cell transplants are also being used in some people. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of Parkinson's disease. ...more »

Parkinson's Disease: A degenerative brain disorder that typically appears after 50 but can occur in younger adults. The charactistic symptom of Parkinson's is uncontrollable shaking called tremor, usually starting in the hands. Gradual progression of Parkinson's disease causes symptoms throughout the body. In many cases the cause is unclear, but Secondary Parkinson's disease can occur can be caused by various underlying causes such as brain injury or certain brain infections. ...more »

Parkinson's Disease: Symptoms

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease begin subtly and advance slowly. As symptoms progress they eventually affect motor skills, speech, gait, digestion, movement, emotion, blood pressure, balance and posture.

The way that symptoms of Parkinson's disease develop varies between individuals. However, Parkinson's disease ultimately leads to disability. Symptoms usually begin in ...more symptoms »

Parkinson's Disease: Treatments

There are currently no treatments that can cure Parkinson's disease. However early recognition and treatment of Parkinson's disease can help to slow progression of the disease, minimize symptoms and improve the quality of life. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted individualized plan that helps to slow the progression of the disease and helps ...more treatments »

Parkinson's Disease: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease may be delayed or missed because it early symptoms are often vague, start slowly and generally progress gradually. Many people with early symptoms of Parkinson's disease assume their symptoms to be a normal part of aging. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease can also mimic symptoms of other diseases, disorders or conditions, such ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Parkinson's Disease:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease: Related Patient Stories

Parkinson's Disease: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Parkinson's Disease.

Alternative Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Parkinson's Disease may include:

Types of Parkinson's Disease

Rare Types of Parkinson's Disease:

Rare types of Parkinson's Disease include:

Parkinson's Disease: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Parkinson's Disease:

Causes of Parkinson's Disease

More information about causes of Parkinson's Disease:

Disease Topics Related To Parkinson's Disease

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Parkinson's Disease:

Parkinson's Disease: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Parkinson's Disease

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered from sudden...read more »

Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease is often over-diagnosed. Patients tend to assume that any memory...read more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's...read more »

Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease. The reality is that there are various possibilities, such as benign essential...read more »

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for milder injuries, or even those causing a mild ...read more »

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked....read more »

Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's. The disease Fragile X disorder can show only mild...read more »

Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed. It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease or dementia (such as...read more »

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return. A variety of symptoms can occur in post...read more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also...read more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of multiple...read more »

Parkinson's Disease: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Parkinson's Disease

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Parkinson's Disease:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Parkinson's Disease, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Parkinson's Disease: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Parkinson's Disease

Medical research articles related to Parkinson's Disease include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Parkinson's Disease: Animations

Prognosis for Parkinson's Disease

Prognosis for Parkinson's Disease: Chronic and progressive.

Research about Parkinson's Disease

Visit our research pages for current research about Parkinson's Disease treatments.

Clinical Trials for Parkinson's Disease

The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Parkinson's Disease include:

Statistics for Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Disease: Broader Related Topics

Parkinson's Disease Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Parkinson's Disease, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Parkinson's Disease

Genes and Disease by the National Center for Biotechnology (Excerpt)

Parkinson disease, first described by James Parkinson in 1817, is a growing national problem, with more than half a million Americans affected at any one time. Most people are over 50 years old when the disease appears, although it can occur in younger patients. (Source: Genes and Disease by the National Center for Biotechnology)

NINDS Parkinson's Disease Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson's and related disorders are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Parkinson's Disease Information Page: NINDS)

Definitions of Parkinson's Disease:

Progressive, degenerative disorder of the nervous system characterized by tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, postural instability, and gait abnormalities; caused by a loss of neurons and a decrease of dopamine in the basal ganglia. - (Source - Diseases Database)

A degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by tremor and impaired muscular coordination - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

 

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