Parkinson's Disease: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 3/28/2019

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.


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

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2019

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