5 Early Signs of Parkinson's Disease

Symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease are subtle. Knowing the signs can help you to recognize if something is wrong.


Parkinson's disease is a disorder in the brain that affects how an individual moves. Parkinson's is a slow progressing disease that begins with uncontrollable movements and often leads to difficulties walking and talking. This disease can affect anyone, but typically develops in people around the age of 60. Because Parkinson's is a gradual disease, the signs can be very subtle.

Early Signs 

Early symptoms begin gradually on one side of the body and then eventually move to both sides. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and are concerned about your risk, you should consider making an appointment to talk to your doctor

1. Tremor

A tremor is a shaking movement that typically occurs in the hands, arms, legs, jaw and head. Tremor is one of the first visible signs of Parkinson's disease (PD), and they typically occur when the individual is at rest and are less noticeable when they are moving. Some individuals experience external and internal tremor which feels like a shaking sensation inside the chest, abdomen or limbs that cannot be seen.

2. Muscle stiffness

When we move we naturally swing our arms. Those with PD will lose their movements that are automatic, and this begins with stiffness in the arms, shoulders and legs. Movements will feel rigid and will be more difficult to complete. Muscle stiffness can occur with other conditions, but with Parkinson's this stiffness will not go away.

3. Small handwriting

Changes in handwriting is a very common symptom of Parkinson's and is called micrographia. With micrographia, the handwriting is smaller and more cramped than normal. This coupled with the other symptoms that occur with this disease can make writing difficult.

4. Changes in speech and voice

Another common symptom is speaking more soft and with less volume. Approximately 75 percent of people with PD experience changes in speech and voice at some time. Additionally, speech may sound more breathy and hoarse.

5. Loss of balance and coordination

Parkinson's affects how an individual walks and moves. Many individuals experience postural instability, or lack of balance, which leads to an increased risk of falls. If you notice changes in your balance it is important to consult with your doctor.

Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

There is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease. However, there are medications and therapies that can assist in relieving the symptoms. If you believe that you have Parkinson's disease, first consult with your doctor. Your doctor will diagnose Parkinsons with a neurological exam. The most common medicine used to treat the symptoms of this disease is levopoda, which helps to replenish the dopamine in the brain.

There are also therapies that a doctor with order to help manage symptoms, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Massage therapy 

For more information about Parkinson's disease, please visit:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)