Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease and How to Address ThemReading 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:
- Motor (movement) symptoms include issues with balance, slowness of movement, and limb stiffness.
- 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.
- Use resources, including the Newly Diagnosed kit and local events that help people with Parkinson’s and care partners.
- 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.
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Social Security’s posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages.