If you are experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s, it’s important that you consult your GP as soon as possible so that they can examine your symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis, and consider different treatment options. It’s understandable that your first visit to the doctor when you suspect you have Parkinson’s can be a little worrying, so it can be useful to bring your partner, a family member, guardian, or a trusted friend along to the appointment with you. At Parkinson’s Queensland, our goal is to continue to provide support to those who not only have Parkinson’s disease, but those individuals going through the diagnosis process.
Parkinson’s disease was first described in 1817 by its namesake, Dr. James Parkinson after writing an essay on the Shaking Palsy, in which he gave a detailed account of the symptoms he observed in six individuals in London. In this report Dr. Parkinson described the cardinal and non-motor signs of Parkinson’s, which are all considered when diagnosing a Parkinson’s patient. If three of these cardinal symptoms are present in the patient, a provisional diagnosis for Parkinson’s will be made.
The classic Parkinson’s Disease tremor is described as a “resting” tremor and is only present when the limb is at rest. In Parkinson’s, a tremor is regular and rhythmic and occurs at the rate of 4-6 times per second.
Otherwise known as ‘slow movement’, Bradykinesia refers to the general effect that it takes longer and requires more effort to complete tasks such as writing, fastening buttons, turning in bed, and walking.
Muscle rigidity refers to the resistance felt in muscles when they are passively moved. This can either present consistently or on an irregular basis.
The inability to maintain posture and balance, which can lead to unsteadiness when walking, turning, or standing.
When seeking a diagnosis for Parkinson’s Disease, your symptoms will be examined before the decision for a provisional diagnosis of Parkinson’s is made. In some cases, Parkinson’s can be easily diagnosed due to how the patient presents physically, but non-motor symptoms are also taken into consideration to ensure a correct diagnosis.
If your doctor believes your symptoms warrant testing, you will undergo diagnosis. The diagnosis process will often involve an MRI and CT scan to rule out any other neurological conditions, as neurological changes within the basal ganglia (the part of the brain where Parkinson’s is present) are not usually visible on these scan results.
While there have been medical advances in diagnosis, Parkinson’s Disease is still primarily diagnosed based on three factors:
If, after testing, you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, your physician will discuss treatment options with you. One of the most common treatments for Parkinson’s is Levodopa, and a positive response to this medication is a further indication of a correct diagnosis.
A Parkinson’s diagnosis is a significant life change and for some, may feel isolating. However, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Parkinson’s Queensland is committed to providing those living with Parkinson’s, and their family members with the support they need to live a fulfilling life while managing their condition. Some helpful information is available via our resources page, and you can also contact the Parkinson’s Queensland team on 1800 644 189 for further information and support.