Symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease usually starts by causing motor, or movement, symptoms. Some people will notice a tremor (shaking) on one side of the body, usually in the hand when it is at rest, such as in a lap. Slowness and stiffness are also common symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. In some people with Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms will be worse on one side of the body. People with Parkinson’s disease and their family members may notice that the voice is softer (more quiet) and/or that the person with Parkinson’s disease has less facial expression. Everyone with Parkinson’s disease is different, though, and one person may or may not have all the different symptoms.

As Parkinson’s disease gradually gets worse over time, people with Parkinson’s disease will have other symptoms, as well. People often have trouble with walking and balance after they have had Parkinson’s disease for years. When the Parkinson’s disease gets worse, someone can also have a symptom called “freezing of gait,” where he or she feels like his feet are stuck or frozen to the floor.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease can also have non-motor, or non-movement, symptoms. For example, constipation is common. Some patients may also have urinary problems. Anxiety and depression occur in over half of people with Parkinson’s disease. Usually later in the disease, difficulties with memory and thinking are common. Both movement and non-movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease progress slowly over time.

For more information about the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service, please call 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).

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