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Parkinson’s Disease: Symptoms & Causes

Medically reviewed by Maushmi Sheth
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Medically reviewed by Maushmi Sheth

Parkinson’s is a progressive movement disorder that affects millions of people. The condition impairs motor function and can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. The signs of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, bradykinesia, muscle rigidity, and postural instability. These motor manifestations result from the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the cerebrum. Particularly in a region called the “substantia nigra”. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in coordinating movement. Its depletion leads to the characteristic movement problems seen in Parkinson’s patients.

The majority of cases appear to be sporadic. With no clear family history, some genetic mutations are in the group at risk. Environmental factors may also play a role. As our understanding of the disease deepens, ongoing research aims to improve early detection. Also, treatment and finding a cure for this challenging condition. In this article, you can find what are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

This disease presents a range of motor and non-motor signs. They can vary in severity and progression from one person to another. The primary motor clinical characteristics include:

  • Tremors: Involuntary rhythmic shaking occurring at rest, often starting in one hand and spreading to other limbs.
  • Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement, making tasks like walking and getting up from a chair. Even simple actions like buttoning a shirt are difficult.
  • Muscle Rigidity: Stiffness and resistance in the muscles leading to decreased range of motion.
  • Postural Instability: Impaired balance and coordination increase the risk of falls.

Non-motor symptoms can also impact daily life and may include:

  • Depression and Anxiety;
  • Sleep Disturbances;
  • Cognitive Impairment;
  • Autonomic Dysfunction;
  • Hyposmia;
  • Speech and Swallowing Problems.

It’s important to note that not all individuals with such disease will experience all these signs. The disease’s progression can be quite variable. Early diagnosis and tailored treatment plans are crucial. They will help manage signs of Parkinson’s disease and improve quality of life.

Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Early symptoms of Parkinson's disease

This disorder manifests a range of clinical characteristics. Many individuals experience subtle early signs that usually remain unnoticed. These initial indicators often serve as precursors of the condition. It makes early recognition critical for timely intervention. Among the primary early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is a resting tremor. It is typically starting in one hand and mistaken for benign shaking. The slowness of movement, or bradykinesia, becomes clear. It leads to difficulties with everyday tasks. Muscle rigidity and stiffness in limbs can emerge, impacting flexibility and causing discomfort. 

Changes in handwriting and a diminishment in size and legibility are also common in the near features. Olfactory dysfunction and sleep disturbances often manifest in the early stages. Mood alterations like mild depression and anxiety may go with these motor signs of Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, postural changes affect balance and occasionally lead to falls. They are early indicators of nervous system illness. 


This is a significant early symptom, such as illness and a reduced sense of smell. This olfactory impairment can precede motor symptoms by years. It makes it a valuable indicator for early diagnosis. Such symptoms of Parkinson’s disease result from the neurodegenerative processes. It affects the brain and may be subtle, but it is often an important early sign.


Shivers is one of the hallmark early clinical manifestations. These involuntary, rhythmic shaking movements are often referred to as “resting shivers.” This is because they tend to occur when the affected body part is at rest. While shivers are a classic sign of Parkinson’s disease, not all individuals with such disease experience them. 

Sleep disturbances

Such violations are common early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Such manifestations can impact a person’s well-being. These disturbances often manifest in various ways, including:

  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, which can lead to excessive daytime fatigue.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome: Unpleasant sensations in the legs. 
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder: Such signs during sleep can cause frequent awakenings. 

These disturbances can often precede the onset of motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

Such concepts are important in the context of medical diagnosis and assessment. There is a distinction between “symptoms” and “signs” of Parkinson’s disease. These terms differentiate between what a patient feels and reports. Also, what a healthcare provider observes or measures (signs) during a clinical examination. In the case of Parkinson’s diagnosis, this differentiation is crucial. Clinical signs are aim observations. They are measurable and observable manifestations of a medical condition. In such illnesses, healthcare professionals always look for clinical signs. 

For example, resting tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability. Diagnosing these manifestations is necessary through physical examination and neurological assessment. The signs of Parkinson’s disease contribute to an understanding of the disease’s impact and progression. The differentiation between them is crucial in the diagnosis and management of illness. It helps healthcare providers assess the patient’s condition and develop appropriate treatment plans. This fact plays a key role in the recovery process.


It often begins in one part of the body and progresses. Such a sign of Parkinson’s disease affects a person’s ability to start and execute movements. Early characteristics of bradykinesia may include a noticeable decrease in the speed of simple daily tasks. It occurs due to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Particularly in the substantia nigra, which plays a critical role in regulating motor functions. A key symptom of Parkinson’s disease often co-occurs with other early signs. Among them are tremors, muscle rigidity, and postural changes. 

Rigidity in the Arms, Legs, and Neck

This is a prominent motor manifestation of Parkinson’s disease. It involves stiffness and increased resistance in the muscles. While it can manifest in both the arms, legs, and neck, there are some distinctions in its presentation.

  • Rigidity in the arms: This often leads to a reduced range of motion. 
  • Stiffness in the legs: It can cause difficulty in walking. 
  • Rigidity in the neck: This can lead to a fixed or stooped posture.

Stiffness in all these areas is due to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain and is a key feature of such illness.

Postural Instability

This is a distinct symptom of Parkinson’s disease. It often occurs in the later stages of the condition. It refers to difficulty maintaining an upright posture and balance. Postural instability is primarily associated with problems with gait and balance. Individuals with Parkinson’s may experience a stooped posture and shuffling gait. Also, a tendency to lean or fall backward. This sign of Parkinson’s disease increases the risk of falls, which can lead to injuries. 

Causes of Parkinson's disease

Causes of Parkinson’s Disease

The exact reasons remain a subject of ongoing research. A combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to their development. This disorder results from the gradual loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Particularly it is in the substantia nigra region. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter critical for regulating movement. Its depletion leads to the characteristic motor symptoms seen in Parkinson’s patients. Genetics plays an important role. Certain mutations are commonly associated with a risk of developing the disease developing. 

Also, lots of sporadic cases meet in practice. There is no clear family history. suggesting a complex interplay between genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers. Environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, or head injuries. They are also linked to an elevated risk. Researchers continue to explore these factors. In the quest to better understand the causes of Parkinson’s disease. This is vital for developing more effective prevention and treatment strategies.


This is a significant factor in the development of illness. While it can affect individuals of various age groups, the risk increases with advancing age. Most cases of the disease occur in individuals over the age of 60. The exact causes of Parkinson’s disease behind this age-related susceptibility are not clear. As people age, there may be a gradual decline in the brain’s ability to repair and maintain neurons. 

Environmental Factors

Prolonged exposure to pesticides and herbicides causes an increased risk of the condition. Head injuries or living in rural areas also raise Parkinson’s risk. The exact mechanisms by which these factors trigger the disease are not fully understood. They suggest that environmental influences. This can interact with genetic predispositions to increase susceptibility to such illness. Research in this area continues to shed light on these potential causes of Parkinson’s disease.


Such a factor is not considered a direct cause. Research suggests that men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women. The reasons for this gender disparity are still not understood. Hormonal differences, genetic variations, and lifestyle factors are among the potential contributing factors. Gender may influence susceptibility. 


Early detection of signs of Parkinson’s disease plays a crucial role in managing such illnesses. Recognizing the subtle yet distinctive early symptoms. Among them are tremors, bradykinesia, and sleep disturbances. They can lead to timely diagnosis and improved outcomes. Diagnosing this illness often involves a comprehensive medical evaluation. This includes neurological assessments and imaging studies to rule out other conditions. There is no cure for such an illness. Various treatments are available to ease signs and enhance quality of life. Medications and physical therapy, are necessary. They can help manage motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Non-pharmacological approaches, like exercise and speech therapy, are important. Additionally, ongoing research into potential disease-modifying therapies offers hope for the future. A multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals, caregivers, and support networks. This is essential in addressing the challenges posed by such a diagnosis. With the right support and strategies, they can continue to lead fulfilling lives.


Are there any known preventive measures for Parkinson’s disease?

There’s no definitive prevention. So, certain lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk.

Do early symptoms always lead to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s?

No, early symptoms are sometimes attributed to other conditions or factors. A thorough medical evaluation is essential.

Is Parkinson’s disease hereditary?

There’s a genetic component in some cases. Most instances of Parkinson’s are not inherited.

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