Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system. It results from damage to the nerve cells in a region of the brain that produces dopamine, a chemical that is vital for the smooth control of muscles and movement.
Parkinson’s disease mainly affects people aged over 65, but it can come on earlier.
Doctors don't yet know the cause of the disorder, and it’s thought to be inherited in only a small proportion of cases. Exposure to certain toxins in the environment is also thought to play a small role.
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
- tremor or shaking, which usually begins in one arm or hand
- muscle rigidity or stiffness
- slowing of movement
- stooped posture
- balance problems
Parkinson’s can also cause pain, depression and problems with memory and sleep.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, symptoms can be treated with a combination of the following:
- medicines to increase or substitute for dopamine
- a healthy diet with regular exercise
- modifications to the physical environment at home and work
- brain surgery
Your doctors will tailor your treatment based on your individual circumstances. You will manage your condition best if you have the support of a team, which may include a general practitioner, neurologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, specialist nurse and dietitian.
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Last reviewed: November 2018