Parkinson's Disease Symptoms
Tremors, rigid limbs, and slow movement are some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Typically, symptoms will be subtle during the early stages of the disease, and then progress slowly. One of the most characteristic symptoms of this condition is a tremor, which usually begins in a hand. Other signs and symptoms include depression, constipation, and sleep disorders.
In 1817, James Parkinson first named and described Parkinson's disease. His rather complete account described most of the symptoms seen with this condition.
Yet, as with many conditions, it is not possible to precisely predict how Parkinson's disease will affect an individual person. The disease typically affects people during the middle to later part of life, although symptoms can first appear in teenagers or young adults. In most people, the disease progresses slowly, and early symptoms can be subtle (see Early Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease). In fact, friends or family members may be the first to notice these changes. However, in some people, the disease progresses quickly.
Also, the symptoms a person experiences can vary. A characteristic tremor is common; however, it is possible to have minimal problems with tremor, while having other, more bothersome symptoms.
Common Parkinson's disease symptoms include:
- Rigid limbs
- Slow movement (bradykinesia)
- A shuffling gait
- An inability to move (akinesia)
- A stooped posture
- Reduced facial expressions
- A soft speaking voice.
Tremors are one of the most common symptoms of the disease. The tremor associated with the condition has a characteristic appearance. Typically, it takes the form of a rhythmic back-and-forth motion of the thumb and forefinger at three beats per second. This is sometimes called "pill rolling." Tremors usually begin in a hand, although sometimes, a foot or the jaw is affected first. It is most obvious when the hand is at rest or when a person is under stress. In three out of four people, the tremor may affect only one part or side of the body -- especially during the early stages of the disease. Later it may become more general. Tremors are rarely disabling, and they usually disappear during sleep or improve with intentional movement.