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Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis & Symptoms

Proper Parkinson’s disease diagnosis is difficult, particularly in the early stages. For many people it takes years before they are accurately diagnosed. The fact that symptoms and progression of symptoms varies between individuals adds to the complexity of diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.

How is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

Parkinson’s is generally diagnosed by a primary care physician or internist who may than refer the patient to a neurologist of movement disorder specialist.
There are no standard diagnostic tests for Parkinson’s. Rather, the diagnosis is a clinical diagnosis based on findings of a neurological exam and information provided by the person with Parkinson’s disease.  

The doctor may:

  • Observe your facial expressions for animation.
  • Observe your arms and hands at rest for tremors.
  • Gently rotate your neck to see if there is stiffness.
  • Ask you to rise from your chair.
  • Observe your gait while you walk down a hallway.
  • Carefully pull you backwards to observe your balance.
  • How quickly are you able to regain your balance?

The main role of any additional testing is to exclude other diseases that imitate Parkinson’s disease, such as a stroke.

If you are experiencing Parkinson’s-like symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care physician, neurologist, or movement disorder specials.

The symptoms someone has and how quickly the condition develops will differ from one person to the next. Always consult your doctor to determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing may be a sign of Parkinson’s disease or a sign of other health issues.

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