Symptoms of Parkinson

The primary symptoms of Parkinson's disease are all related to voluntary and involuntary motor function and usually start on one side of the body. Symptoms are mild at first and will progress over time. Some individuals are more affected than others. Secondary symptoms vary in severity, and not every individual will experience all of them. 

Four Main Motor Symptoms of PD

  • Shaking or tremor at rest.
  • Slowness of movement, called bradykinesia.
  • Stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or trunk.
  • Trouble with balance and falls, also called postural instability. Postural instability usually appears later with disease progression and may not be present with initial diagnosis.

Secondary Symptoms of PD May Include

  • Small, cramped handwriting, called micrographia.
  • Reduced arm swing on the affected side.
  • Slight foot drag on affected side creating a shuffled walk.
  • “Freezing”—a term used to describe the phenomenon of being “stuck in place” when attempting to walk.
  • Loss of facial expression due to rigidity of facial muscles, called hypomimia.
  • Low voice volume, called hypophonia.
  • Tendency to fall backwards, called retropulsion.
  • Decrease ability in automatic reflexes such as blinking and swallowing.

Non-motor symptoms may include

  • Mood (depression, anxiety, irritability)
  • Cognitive changes (attention, visuo-spatial problems, memory problems, personality changes, psychosis/hallucinations)
  • Lightheaded and low blood pressure upon standing
  • Feeling of fullness after eating small amounts
  • Excessive sweating, especially of hands and feet
  • Dry skin
  • Urinary urgency, frequency and incontinence
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sensory (pain, tightness, tingling, burning)

Source: National Parkinson Foundation. Available at:, accessed 12 December 2014