5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease then your doctor will use a rating scale to establish the stage of your disease and to track the progression. The rating scale will assess motor symptoms such as movement and tremors, as well as non-motor symptoms such as loss of smell.

There are five different stages of Parkinson’s disease, starting with mildest and leading up the most severe. There are commonalities in each stage, but the severity of symptoms will differ.

MORE: How to manage ‘freezing’ in Parkinson’s disease

Stage 1
Mild symptoms such as tremors along one side of the body may be presented at this stage. Often the symptoms are mild enough not to interfere with daily life, but slight changes in walking, posture, or facial expressions may be noticed by those around them.

Stage 2
Both sides of the body may be affected by slightly worsened tremors or rigidity. Issues with posture and walking may become quite noticeable and everyday activities may be harder to achieve but patients will still be able to do things for themselves.

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Stage 3
As motor symptoms become worse, patients may begin to experience loss of balance leading to falls and movement can become very slow. Although many patients can still live independently they may have difficulty in everyday activities such as eating or dressing.

MORE: How does Parkinson’s disease affect the brain?

Stage 4
In this later stage, symptoms are now extremely limiting. Many patients can still stand without assistance but movement is greatly impaired. Most will need help with everyday activities and will not be able to look after themselves.

Stage 5
This is the most advanced stage of the disease and most patients will experience difficulty in walking and standing, often requiring a wheelchair. Assistance will be needed in all areas of daily life as motor skills are seriously impaired. In addition, people with advanced Parkinson’s disease may also begin to suffer hallucinations.

MORE: How Parkinson’s disease affects your body.

Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.



    • George Owen says:

      I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease by two neurologist yet the Veterans department denied my claim based on the opinion of a Nurse Practitioner who stats that I have Parkinsonism.

    • Dr. C says:

      If it is any help – from what I have read, these stage can have a wide range of time spans. For some the disease progresses very slowly, over decades, and for others very quickly, over 5 years. There are some researchers (and writers like myself) who are suggesting that there are very early signs, small changes like a foot drag issue, that may occur early on in stage one. The research suggests that the sooner that treatment occurs the better the outcome – thus my continued focus on early symptoms.

  1. Well…now I know a little more! Will discuss these stages with my neurologist, whom I’ll be seeing soon. One of my drivers said he had a friend who went through a very painful time near the end. I’ve had either or both legs cramp up all over the place in times past…now I’m careful how I lay down to avoid this! ALTHOUGH…like everything else, nearly, I have written poems about my disease progression! see the website, below, and SEARCH for Parkinson’s…My poems are all titled IN CAPS! 🙂

  2. My mother has had Parkinson’s for over thirty years. She began showing or noticing signs in her late twenties/early thirties and is in her late sixties. Until the last 4-5 years she was able to walk now she is completely immobile bit able to scoot her feet less than a foot to her bedside toilet. She still takes cooks for my dad and does her ad’s except bathe and I assist with that. She is also still lives with my dad no one other than myself has to come in to help her through out the day, she is very independent.

  3. Cathy says:

    Thanks for all of this info. I am a 74 year old female, who in the past few months have been experiencing tremors in both hands and right foot. My balance is off a bit and my memory is affected. Went to a neurologist who ordered several (21) blood tests, and an MRI of my brain.. Except for showing some hardening of the arteries, the MRI was alright . The blood work showed my Iron was low. He decided that my symptoms are age related. I am very independent and take total care of myself. I am not content wit this diagnosis. What should I do now. Something is wrong. I know how I should be feeling. Any suggestions out there?Thanks

  4. Brent Berson says:

    My mother has Parkinsons and while she doesn’t have the tremors associated with the disease,she does have the peripheral neuropathy in her extremities,especially her legs and feet.
    Her Dr. has tried several drugs that are normally used as the 1st drugs used to treat the problems including Gabapentin and similar anti-sezure and anti-depressants.
    She turnsd 90 this month and I feel that there’s very little harm in trying opioid narcotics to try and see if they lessen her pain.
    I know that Dr’s are,as a group, steering away from prescribing narcotics.
    Hoiwever,with my mom turning 90,what could be the harm? Let’s say they help and she starts taking them on a daily basis to treat her pain.
    What are the possible downsides to using opiods,especially for someone in her condition and at her age. The worst thing is she becomes ‘physically dependant’ on them.So what? Dr’sd used to hand out opiods like they were the the answer to everything. Now,it’s the last thing they prescribe due to all the negative cono-tations associated with their use.
    IOt can’t hurt and may be a big help.

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