Podcast Episode 49: Parkinson’s Disease vs. Parkinsonism: What’s the Difference?

PD Library thumbnail

If a person develops symptoms of tremor, slow movements, and stiffness, it could be early signs of Parkinson’s disease (PD) but it may also be the beginnings of any of a group of conditions known by the general term “parkinsonism,” conditions that have some symptoms in common with PD but differ in important ways. Also called atypical Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson’s plus, they tend to progress faster, and they may or may not respond to levodopa, and possibly only show modest benefit. While Parkinson’s disease represents 85-90% of all cases of parkinsonism, a definitive diagnosis for atypical parkinsonism may never be made while the person is alive. Licensed Clinical Social Worker Paula Wiener, a Senior Parkinson’s Information Specialist with the Parkinson’s Foundation, describes the difference between Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism and gives some examples of Parkinson’s plus. As with PD, exercise is highly recommended for these atypical parkinsonian syndromes.

Download This Episode

Related Resources

Want More?

Don't forget to subscribe! There are many ways to listen: Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayTuneIn (Amazon Echo), Spotify or RSS Feed. (Need help subscribing? See our quick guide.)

For all of our Substantial Matters podcast episodes, visit parkinson.org/podcast.

About This Episode

Released: February 26, 2019

Paula McFeely Wiener, MSW, LCSW

Paula is a licensed clinical social worker and senior information specialist with the Parkinson’s Foundation.  Since receiving her MSW in 1995, she has worked almost exclusively with the senior population. Her experience includes being a center coordinator for a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, leading a number of PD support groups, educating patients, families, and health care professionals about the disease, and answering questions on the Helpline for 12 years. Paula is passionate about improving understanding and care for people with Parkinson’s disease and their family members.  Paula’s father was diagnosed with atypical parkinsonism which gave her a very personal understanding of what patients and families with this diagnosis go through.


Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter

Get the latest news about PD research, resources and community initiatives – straight to your inbox.

Please enter a valid email

Skip step

Invalid year format. Eg: 2020
Skip step
Zip code is required for chapter communications
Skip step

*Please note that not all content is available in both languages. If you are interested in receiving Spanish communications, we recommend selecting “both" to stay best informed on the Foundation's work and the latest in PD news.

Skip step

Thanks for Signing Up

We are proud to have you as a part of our community. To ensure you receive the latest Parkinson’s news, research updates and more, please check your email for a message from us. If you do not see our email, it may be in your spam folder. Just mark as “not spam” and you should receive our emails as expected.

mail icon

Subscribe here to get the latest news on treatments, research and other updates.