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Diagnosis

There is no “one way” to diagnose Parkinson’s disease (PD).

There is no “one way” to diagnose Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, there are various symptoms and diagnostic tests used in combination. Making an accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s — particularly in its early stages — is difficult, but a skilled practitioner can come to a reasoned conclusion that it is PD. It is important to remember that two of the four main symptoms must be present over a period of time for a neurologist to consider a PD diagnosis:

  • Shaking or tremor
  • Slowness of movement, called bradykinesia
  • Stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or trunk
  • Trouble with balance and possible falls, also called postural instability

Often, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is first made by an internist or family physician. Many people seek an additional opinion from a neurologist with experience and specific training in the assessment and treatment of PD — referred to as a movement disorder specialist.

The Parkinson’s Foundation recommends that a person with symptoms resembling those of PD consider making an appointment with a movement disorder specialist. To find a specialist in your community, call our free Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) from Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM ET to 5:00 PM ET.

Page reviewed by Dr. Ryan Barmore, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence.

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