This article will cover the following questions:
- Do I have Parkinson’s Disease?
- What are the Parkinson’s Disease symptoms that I need to watch out for?
- How do I go about getting a diagnosis if I suspect I might have Parkinson’s disease?
- If I do have Parkinson’s, what should I do next?
Do I have Parkinson’s / Common Parkinson’s disease Symptoms.
Questioning whether you have Parkinson’s can be a scary time in your life, and with so much information out there it can be difficult to know if you should be concerned or not. Below are the most common Parkinson’s disease symptoms that you should be aware of:
- Resting tremor
- Generalized slowness (bradykinesia)
- Postural instability (balance issues)
- Stiffness of the limbs (cogwheel rigidity)
- Your handwriting has gotten smaller
- Decreased facial expression
- Your voice has gotten softer
- Imbalanced shuffling gait
- Sleep disturbance (especially movement while asleep)
- Difficulty swallowing
Every person is different, and someone could have Parkinson’s with only a few of these symptoms or even none. Also, it is possible to have several of these symptoms and NOT have Parkinson’s disease. If you find yourself experiencing any of the above symptoms, especially resting tremor, postural instability, stiffness of the limbs (which might manifest with much reduced swinging of the arms while walking), and generalized slowness (which might manifest doing tasks like tying shoelaces), then seek to get diagnosed by following the steps below:
Where should I go if I think I have Parkinson’s?
If you have noticed some of the above symptoms on this list, then it is a good idea to see if you have Parkinson’s. Your first call should be to your primary care doctor to ask them if they can recommend a Movement Disorder Specialist or neurologist you could see. A Movement Disorder Specialist is a doctor that specializes in nervous system conditions such as Parkinson’s and is the best doctor to help diagnose Parkinson’s disease.
How does a specialist go about diagnosing Parkinson’s disease?
When you go to your appointment with your Movement Disorder Specialist you will notice that there is no one test to see if you have Parkinson’s or not. After discussing your symptoms with the doctor they will look at your medical history as well as conduct a physical exam and closely watch your symptoms to see if they are originating from Parkinson’s or not. Your doctor may also order some blood tests, a DaTscan (similar to getting a cat scan or an X-ray), and other tests to rule out any other condition that could be causing the symptoms besides Parkinson’s or Parkinsonism. Due to there being no precise way for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease it is highly recommended to get a diagnosis from someone specifically trained in Movement Disorders and Parkinson’s Disease. Some specialists will use response to carbidopa/levodopa to confirm the diagnosis.
If you do have Parkinson’s – What are your next steps?
If you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease here are the next 3 steps you need to take.
1.) Develop a plan with your Movement Disorders Specialist
Your doctor knows you best and can help answer any questions you have as well as work with you to develop a plan for how you can manage this disease going forward.
2.) Learn as Much as you can about PD
There are a lot of questions you will have about Parkinson’s disease, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming when seeing all of the different information out there. If you are looking for some clear information to help you clear through the clutter, then check out the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area’s website. They have helpful articles, free quarterly presentations on different topics related to Parkinson’s, and a yearly educational symposium on Parkinson’s presented by over 30 Movement Disorder Specialists and covering over 40 topics that are relevant for those with Parkinson’s.
3.) Manage your Parkinson’s disease through exercise programs
One of the best ways to manage Parkinson’s disease symptoms is through exercise and staying active. Finding exercise programs for Parkinson’s can help you manage your symptoms so that you can lead a happy and fulfilling life. If you are looking for Parkinson’s exercise programs, then check out PFNCA’s wellness programs for Parkinson’s taking place over Zoom by clicking here.
Final thoughts on Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms.
Many symptoms can indicate Parkinson’s but because other conditions can also cause these symptoms it is best to get diagnosed by a specialist as soon as you start to notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. While it may present challenges, many people live long, full and happy lives, as long they take the appropriate steps to manage the disease. You can too!
How PFNCA Can Help You With Your Parkinson’s
Looking to learn more about Parkinson’s? Click the button below and receive our Parkinson’s resource pack featuring multiple videos, articles and more from leading Parkinson’s doctors on everything you need to know for you or a loved one to live well with Parkinson’s.
PFNCA provides Parkinson’s exercise classes live, in person and online. You can improve your quality of life by managing your symptoms in a fun and supportive environment with others facing Parkinson’s.