Parkinson's Disease: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Parkinson's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the central nervous system.

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremor (trembling) in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head, stiffness of the limbs and body, slowness of movement (medically termed bradykinesia), and problems with balance or posture. The symptoms begin gradually and worsen with time. Early symptoms can include soft speech, small or cramped handwriting, tiredness, depression, or irritability.

Causes of Parkinson's disease

Damage and loss of nerve cells in an area known as the substantia nigra of the brain causes Parkinson's disease. These nerve cells produce a chemical called dopamine. When these cells are damaged, there is too little dopamine in the brain, and this results in the characteristic signs and symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.

Other parkinson's disease symptoms and signs

  • Confusion
  • Cramped, Small Handwriting
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of Balance
  • Loss of Sense of Smell
  • Shuffling Gait
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Slowness of Movement (Bradykinesia)
  • Soft Speech
  • Stiff Limbs
  • Tremors in the Hands, Arms, Legs, Jaw, or Head

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.