Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is a complex condition with many potential symptoms. The Parkinson’s disease symptoms and the way they progress is different for each person.

Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

The main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease affect physical movement. They include:

  • Tremor – shaking, which usually begins in the hands or arms;
  • Bradykinesia – where physical movement is much slower than normal. This can make everyday tasks difficult and may result in a distinctive slow, shuffling walk with very small steps;
  • Muscle stiffness (rigidity) – stiffness and tension in the muscles, which can make it difficult to move around and make facial expressions, and may result in painful muscle cramps (dystonia);
  • Postural instability – more pronounced in the later stages of the disease, it includes the inability to maintain a steady, upright posture or prevent a fall.
  • Gait difficulties – a common early symptom is a decrease in the natural swing of one or both arms when walking. As the disease progresses, steps may become small and slow, and a shuffling gait may appear. Gait problems also may include a tendency to propel forward with rapid, short steps;
  • Vocal symptoms – changes in the voice are common and are partly due to bradykinesia. The voice may become softer, or it may start off strong and then fade away. There may be a loss of the normal variation in volume and emotion in the voice. As the disease progresses, speaking may become rapid, with words crowded together, or stuttering may occur.

Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Alongside motor symptoms, Parkinson’s disease can have non-motor symptoms, ranging from depression and anxiety to hallucinations, memory problems and dementia.

  • Disturbances in the sense of smell – An early sign of the disease is a reduced sensitivity to odors (hyposmia) or a loss of the sense of smell (anosmia).
  • Sleep problems – including the inability to fall asleep, or primary insomnia, which is less common, and the inability to stay asleep, or secondary insomnia. Some patients may have vivid dreams, although these are more typically due to side effects of medications.
  • Depression and anxiety – These are fairly common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and can range in severity, and may improve with medications and psychotherapy.
  • Psychosis – Parkinson’s disease psychosis is a non-motor symptom, which causes patients to experience hallucinations and/or delusions. Over the course of their disease more than half of all patients eventually develop symptoms of psychosis.
  • Cognitive changes – As the disease progresses, patients have problems with thinking, finding words, confusion, and judgment. Many patients report having difficulties in multitasking and organizing daily activities.

There currently is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, there are different therapies and support available to help patients manage their condition.

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.

Ask an expert survey graphic

Your Parkinson’s Community

Woman laying down illustration

Visit the Parkinson’s News Today forums to connect with others in the Parkinson’s community.

View Forums