Parkinsons Disease Home > Early Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

In its early stages, Parkinson's disease can cause subtle symptoms, such as being a little shaky, lacking facial expression, and talking softly. These symptoms often progress slowly and may last a long time before more obvious symptoms appear. In many cases, these early signs of Parkinson's disease are dismissed as normal aging, and many people do not seek medical attention until more severe symptoms occur, such as tremors.

Understanding Early Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

In its fully developed form, Parkinson's disease is easily recognized -- the rhythmic tremor, fixed facial expression, stooped posture, and stiffness and slowness of movement. However, Parkinson's disease and its symptoms are often subtle in the beginning. So it is not uncommon for friends or family members to be the first to notice early changes in a person who is eventually diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Also, symptoms tend to progress slowly. Early symptoms of Parkinson's disease may last a long time before the more classic and obvious symptoms appear. These early symptoms may even be attributed to the normal effects of aging or other medical conditions, such as arthritis.

Possible Early Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

When someone begins to show early symptoms of Parkinson's disease, they may include:
  • Being overly tired or a general ill feeling
  • Being a little shaky or having difficulty getting out of a chair
  • Talking softly
  • Handwriting looks cramped and spidery
  • Losing track of a word or thought
  • Feeling irritable or depressed for no apparent reason
  • Lacking facial expression and animation (known as "masked face") -- can include such things as staring or a lack of blinking
  • Remaining in a certain position for a long time
  • Failing to move an arm or leg normally (such as not swinging an arm or leg)
  • Having stiff, unsteady, and unusually slow movement
  • Resting tremors.
Tremors are one of the classic symptoms of Parkinson's disease, although not everyone will experience this symptom. Early on, tremors may be minimal and can often be stopped through relaxation or by keeping the affected hand in a pocket. As the disease progresses, the shaking may begin to interfere with daily activities. People may not be able to hold utensils steady or may find that the shaking makes reading a newspaper difficult. Parkinson's tremors may become worse when the person is relaxed. A few seconds after the hands are rested on a table, for instance, the shaking is most pronounced. For most people, tremors are usually the symptom that causes them to seek medical help.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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