What are the Most Common Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease?
Symptoms of Parkinson's vary from person to person and not
everyone is affected by all of them.
In some people, the disease progresses quickly; in others it
Here are the most common primary symptoms of Parkinson's
In the early stages of the disease, about 70% of people
experience a slight tremor in the hand or foot on one side of the
body, or sometimes in the jaw or face. It looks like a 'beating'
movement and is regular (4-6 beats per second).
Because tremor usually appears when the muscles are relaxed, it's
called "resting tremor". This means that the affected body part
trembles when it is at rest and not doing work and often stops when
you start using (or working) that part of the body.
The tremor often spreads to the other side of the body as the
disease progresses, but will remain most obvious on the side of the
body where it first started.
A few more points on tremors include:
- usually occur at rest, may occur at any time
- may become severe enough to interfere with activities
- may be worse when tired, excited, or stressed
- finger-thumb rubbing (*pill-rolling tremor) may be
*NOTE: ("Pill-rolling" is seen especially in the hands; this is
fairly unique to Parkinson's disease. The term refers to the motion
that a pharmacist uses to align a handful of pills before placing
them in a bottle or, possibly, the motion used to roll a marble
between the thumb and forefinger. Eventually the tremor becomes
Basically this means stiffness or inflexibility of the muscles.
Normally muscles contract when they move, and then relax when they
are at rest. In rigidity, the muscle tone of an affected body part
Rigidity can result in a decreased range of motion. For example
a person may not swing his or her arms when walking. Rigidity can
also cause pain and cramps at the muscle site.
Bradykinesia is a slowing of voluntary movement. In addition to
slow movements, a person with bradykinesia will likely also have
incompleteness of movement, difficulty in initiating movements, and
arrests of ongoing movement.
The person may begin to walk with short, shuffling steps
(festination), which, combined with other symptoms such as loss of
balance, increases the incidence of falls.
They may also experience difficulty making turns or abrupt
movements. They may go through periods of "freezing", which is when
the person is stuck and finds it difficult to stop or start
Bradykinesia and rigidity can occur in the facial muscles,
causing a "mask-like" expression with little or no movement of the
face. The slowness and incompleteness of movement can also affect
speaking and swallowing.
Here is a list of some secondary symptoms of Parkinson's
- slow speech
- low-volume voice
- difficulty speaking
Changes in Facial Expression:
- reduced ability to show facial expressions
- "mask" appearance to face
- may be unable to close mouth
- reduced rate of blinking
Loss of Fine Motor Skills:
- difficulty writing, may be small and illegible (called
- difficulty eating
- difficulty with any activity that requires small movements
- movement is slow and uncontrolled
Other siymptoms may include:
Pain, including muscle aches and pains (myalgia)
Dementia or confusion
A variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, mainly constipation
Fear, stress or anxiety
Memory difficulties and slowed thinking
Fatigue and/or loss of energy
Unstable, stooped, or slumped-over posture