What is Parkinson’s?

The following information is from the Parkinson’s UK website www.parkinsons.org.uk.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s. That’s about 120,000 people in the UK. Most people who get Parkinson’s are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too. One in 20 is under the age of 40. People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear. There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s and we don’t yet know why people get the condition. Parkinson’s doesn’t directly cause people to die, but symptoms do get worse over time.

Parkinson’s symptoms

Everyone with Parkinson’s has different symptoms. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. As well as affecting movement, people with Parkinson’s can find that other issues, such as tiredness, pain, depression and constipation, can have an impact on their day-to-day lives. The symptoms someone has and how quickly the condition develops will differ from one person to the next. The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s section will tell you more. The symptoms can be controlled using a combination of drugs, therapies and occasionally surgery. As Parkinson’s progresses, an increased amount of care and support may be required, although many people maintain a good quality of life with limited care or treatment.

Parkinson’s diagnosis

It’s not easy to diagnose Parkinson’s. There are no laboratory tests so it’s important that the diagnosis is given by a specialist. The specialist will examine the person for any physical signs of Parkinson’s and take a detailed history of the symptoms they’re experiencing. Find out more in the information sheet on diagnosis and scans.

There are guidelines for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s which health professionals should follow:

NICE Guideline (England, Wales, Northern Ireland)

SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) Guideline

For more information about Parkinson’s, see publications about Parkinson’s