Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
There are no lab tests to definitively diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and do a thorough physical exam.
A neurological exam will include a range of tests to evaluate your strength, coordination, balance, and other aspects, such as:
A mini-mental status test may be done. Activities of daily living may also be evaluated, such as dressing, cutting and eating food, swallowing, hygiene, walking, and falls.
There are four symptoms that are considered hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms include:
Sometimes, not all of these hallmark symptoms are present. If that is the case, your doctor may examine you every few months to check on your symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease may also cause:
If your doctor has questions about the cause of your symptoms, you may be given tests to try to eliminate the possibility of other disorders. These tests may include:
Your doctor may also give you a trial of levodopa, a medication that increases the amount of dopamine your brain produces. A positive response to this medication may help to confirm the diagnosis.
Your doctor may also have imaging tests done, such as:
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013