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Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans have Parkinson's disease.
The loss of dopamine production in the brain causes the primary symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
The key signs of Parkinson's disease are:
- Tremor (shaking)
- Slowness of movement, rigidity (stiffness)
- Difficulty with balance
Other signs of Parkinson's disease may include:
- Small, cramped handwriting
- Stiff facial expression
- Shuffling walk
- Muffled speech
Who gets Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson's disease affects men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. In the United States, it is estimated that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15% of those diagnosed are under the age of 50.
What causes Parkinson's disease?
The cause is likely due to a slight genetic tendency that is triggered by a toxin. Onset before age 45 often has a strong genetic cause and predictability.
Is Parkinson's disease difficult to diagnose?
For a neurologist with experience in movement disorders, making the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is not usually difficult. However, there are conditions that mimic the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease and they need to be ruled out first.
While a Parkinson's disease diagnosis is made clinically without elaborate diagnostic testing (like MRI/CT scans or blood tests), some "look-a-like" conditions may require these tests. For this reason, people suspected of having Parkinson’s disease should consider seeking the care of a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.
How is Parkinson's disease treated?
Find out about treatment options we offer.
Research around Parkinson's disease holds great promise. Scientists are looking at stem cell and gene transfer techniques aimed at restoring lost brain cell function.
Parkinson's web resources
Web sites with more information about Parkinson's disease.