(PD; Paralysis Agitans; Shaking Palsy)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Parkinson disease (PD) is a brain disorder that causes tremors and problems moving.
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain. It helps people move and control their emotions. PD is caused by a loss of brain cells that make dopamine. It is not known why this happens.
A small number of people with PD have an early-onset form. This type is caused by a faulty gene. It is passed down from parents.
PD is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms start slowly and get worse over time. Common ones may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to make the diagnosis. There are no tests for PD.
Images may be taken to rule out other causes and confirm the diagnosis. These may be:
There is no cure. Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms.
Medicines that may be used to ease symptoms are:
Medicine may also be given to ease symptoms of depression.
Surgical choices are:
Therapy can improve muscle tone, strength, balance, and movement.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy may ease symptoms and improve quality of life. It has a person examine their feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them, and apply coping methods to situations.
There are no current guidelines to prevent PD.
National Parkinson Foundation
Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Parkinson Society Canada
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9/3/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease: Wippold FJ, Brown DC, Broderick DF, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for dementia and movement disorders. Available at:
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11/10/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease : Shanahan J, Morries ME, Bhriain ON, Saunders J, Clifford AM. Dance for people with Parkinson disease: what is the evidence telling us? Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015;96(1):141-153.
2/24/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease : Leung IH, Walton CC, Hallock H, et al. Cognitive training in Parkinson disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology. 2015;85(21):1843-1851.
10/17/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease : Ni M Signorile JF, et al. Comparative effect of power training and high-speed yoga on motor function in older patients with Parkinson disease. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Mar;97(3):345-354.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 10/21/2019
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