Disability, General, Guest Bloggers

Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease and How to Address Them

February 3, 2022 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: February 3, 2022

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the brain cells that produce dopamine—a chemical messenger in the brain which helps control movement.

When the brain cannot produce enough dopamine, symptoms can appear:

  1. Motor (movement) symptoms include issues with balance, slowness of movement, and limb stiffness.
  2. Non-motor (non-movement) symptoms include anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and others.

While a slight tremor or shaking of a finger may be the most common sign of Parkinson’s, there are 10 early signs. Some of these signs include:

  • Small handwriting: a change in handwriting with cramped letters.
  • Loss of Smell: not able to smell foods like bananas, dill pickles, or licorice.
  • Trouble Sleeping: sudden movements during sleep, like thrashing around.
  • Trouble Moving or Walking: stiffness in the body, arms, or legs. Feeling stuck to the floor.

If you or a loved one experiences more than a few of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about seeing a movement disorder specialist (a neurologist with specialized training).

The age of diagnosis, progression, and symptoms are unique to every person. As the disease progresses, new symptoms may occur. With early detection, treatment and expert care, many people with Parkinson’s live longer, productive lives.

While there is no cure, medications and various treatments can help. Exercise helps people with Parkinson’s maintain balance and mobility. Building an expert care team can also maximize the quality of life. A care team can consist of a movement disorder specialist, a general neurologist, a physical and occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and others.

Resources That Work for You

The Parkinson’s Foundation is here for everyone living with and caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease.

  • Get empowered through the free PD Library — an extensive collection of educational tools.
  • Visit Parkinson.org or call the Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636) for more information.

Social Security offers programs that may provide financial assistance if your Parkinson’s prevents you from working. You can learn more about the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs on their Disability Benefits page.

Please share this information with your friends and family — and post it on social media.

Social Security’s posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages.


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  1. Deepak

    This is really great post, really informative.
    please keep up the good work, i wish you all the very best for future.
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  2. Jonner S.

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  3. Joseph M.

    Thanks for sharing this informative post.
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  4. Mel.

    I was diagnosed with PD about 10 years ago it started with in my left arm and hand. I began to have troubles with my handwriting being so bad that I couldn’t read it myself after it got cold. I had d b s surgery about 6 years ago. It did a lot of good for the symptoms but does not stop the progression. I am now retired and experiencing more difficulty everyday I visit my neurologist three to four times a year but all they do is Monitor my symptoms but they make no recommendations or suggestions on how to improve life. I now have trouble with my speech, walking, using my hand and my stamina it’s only about 4 hours a day. I take several medications and vitamins and still want to work in my shop but I’ve had to change some of the items I was working on.

  5. BETTY G.

    my late husband was 1st diagnosed with ESSENTIAL TREMORS for 5 yrs; then PARKINSON’S for 5 yrs.

    then dementia was obvious to me. the parkinson’s can lead to LEWY BODY DEMENTIA causing visual/violent hallucinations like robin williams had!!

    see our story link below where jack’s 2 brain autopsies showed:
    . lyme disease
    . lewy body dementia causing his hallucinations abve.
    . JACK WAS 1ST IN WORLD WITH LYME/LEWY BODY DEMENTIA DISCOVERED!
    . cluster of 24 filarial nematode parasitic worms having LYME INSIDE!

    pathologist was to write/publish in medical journal this important discovery but failed to do so.

    2nd autopsy showed lyme & bartonella aka cat scratch disease, 2 species! you will learn more in story i wrote up here!

    https://durayresearch.wordpress.com/our-work/alzheimers-disease-and-borrelia/eighty-two-years-as-chronic-lyme-disease-patients/

    there are his brain slides on site too!

  6. James A.

    There is never a mention of diet and eating foods that can improve the condition and to stop eating inflammatory foods. This can have a huge impact on Parkinson’s. A leading cause of Parkinson’s is leaky gut. Toxins coming in through the gut wall can causes inflammation in various parts of the body. Plant proteins called lectins (which are part of the Plants defense system) can enter through the gut wall and reach the brain by literally climbing the vegas nerve from the gut through the blood brain barrier. The inflammation can lead to Parkinson’s. A key lectin from wheat called wheat germ agglutinin can cause this. Since wheat is a staple it’s rarely mentioned as a problem. Humans only began eating grains about 10,000 years ago. Grain were a staple part of agriculture that allowed people to settle and grow cities/country’s. The problem is, we never were designed and don’t have the digestive system to fully digest grains/grasses. We are designed to eat leaves such a leafy greens from two leaf plants. There is a lot more two this but it’s never addressed which is a problem.

  7. John w.

    Can I ask social security for additional help – severely handicapped w Parkinson’s but collecting already reg soc secu. 84 years old

    • Ann C.

      Hi, John. Thanks for your question. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

      • Diane S.

        Also check with Office of the Aging in your county. They helped me with getting a healthcare aid to help me with showers, light housework. I do know they can set up the meals for you also.

  8. David i.

    Ya right! I inquired at the VA and was told my symptoms were just related to old age.

    • Dawn M.

      Hi David, thanks for your comment. You may be eligible to receive care at the Veteran’s Affairs Parkinson’s Disease, Research, Education & Clinical Centers (PADRECCs). There are 6 PADRECCs across the VA that provides care to Veterans diagnosed with PD and related movement disorders. To learn more about the VA PADRECCs and how to access movement disorders care in the VA please visit: http://www.parkinsons.va.gov or call 1-800-959-1001 x20 5769. Hope you find this information helpful

  9. Glen F.

    Is Parkinson’s hereditary?

  10. Gregg T.

    Does bright sunlight affect you in any fashion as if I sit in the sun for my depression, I find it harder to move around when I stand up and try to walk

    • Claude G.

      Interesting question. Please share if you get an answer.

      • BETTY G.

        see my comments below..thanks!

    • Claude G.

      Gregg,
      I am someone who often sneezes when stepping outside into bright sunlight. I heard that is hereditary. I didn’t believe it until my second child did the same!
      Claude G

    • BETTY G.

      for your photo sensitivites like my late husband had, you might have GRAVES DISEASE, over active thyroid which should be checked into!

      i was bitten by an UNSEEN TICK 53 yrs. ago. i was misdiagnosed for 35 yrs. by 40-50+ drs. before igenex blood lab, california found i was POSITIVE FOR LYME DISEASE/neuro borreliosis. i am EXTREMELY sensitive to light, glare/reflections!

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