Stages of Parkinson's Disease

There are five Parkinson's disease stages. This helps healthcare providers decide what treatment to recommend and to help families better understand how the condition progresses. These categories include stages I through V, and can also be described as early, moderate, and advanced Parkinson's disease. The effects and severity of symptoms increases with each of these five stages.

An Overview of Parkinson's Stages

There are several rating systems in place to stage Parkinson's disease. A widely used scale developed by Hoehn and Yahr categorizes people with the disease into one of five stages. These stages can help healthcare providers decide what treatment to recommend. They can also help families gain a better understanding of how Parkinson's disease progresses. The overall effect and severity of Parkinson's disease symptoms increases with each of these stages.
Healthcare providers may also describe Parkinson's disease stages as early, moderate, and advanced.

Stage I (Beginning Stage of Parkinson's)

Stage I is considered the beginning stage of the disease. A person is categorized with stage I if the following are present:
  • Signs and symptoms are only on one side of the body
  • Symptoms are mild
  • Symptoms are inconvenient but not disabling
  • Usually has tremors in one limb
  • Friends have noticed changes in posture, locomotion, and facial expression.
Stage I is also known as early-stage Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's Disease Stage II

A person is categorized as stage II if the following are present:
  • Symptoms occur on both sides of the body
  • Minimal disability
  • Posture and gait are affected.
Medication may be started during stage I or II and typically involves one of the less powerful Parkinson's disease medications. This includes such drugs as:
Using these medicines first allows the healthcare provider to save the most powerful treatment (specifically, levodopa) for the time when people need it most.
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Parkinson's Disease Information

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