Health A to Z

Parkinson's disease

Discover the causes, symptoms and treatment for this degenerative neurological disease.

Parkinson's disease causes symptoms treatments

Parkinson’s, the disease that Michael J. Fox has publicly battled, is a progressive neurological disease that affects movement. It typically develops slowly with a subtle tremor in one hand. Symptoms tend to worsen as Parkinson’s progresses. Nearly 100,000 Canadians have the disease.

Parkinson’s causes Parkinson’s occurs with the dying of the cells that normally produce the brain chemical dopamine, which controls movement.  The reason this happens is unknown; however, genetic mutations, exposure to environmental toxins or viruses may be contributing factors.

Parkinson’s symptoms The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremor, slowness and stiffness, impaired balance and muscle rigidity. The average age of onset is 60; however, five to 10 percent of sufferers are diagnosed before age 40.

Parkinson’s diagnosis/tests Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist who will take your medical history and do a neurological examination to observe you as you walk, sit, turn around, etc. There is no single test to confirm Parkinson’s and MRI and CT scans may appear normal. So the diagnosis is often based on the doctor’s judgment, good reason to make sure you find yourself one who’s experienced with the disease.

Parkinson’s  treatment There is no cure for Parkinson’s but it is possible to live with the disease for years. Symptoms are treated with medication, and in some cases, surgery, to help control tremors and involuntary movements. Physical therapy, speech therapy, exercise and occupational therapy may also help sufferers manage their symptoms.

Parkinson’s prevention A way to prevent Parkinson’s has not yet been discovered.

Outside resources
Parkinson Society of Canada
The Michael J. Fox Foundation of Parkinson’s Research

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