Parkinson disease (PD) is a movement disorder that causes trembling and shaking (tremors) of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head; stiffness of the arms, legs and core; slow movements (bradykinesia); and poor balance. PD is long lasting (chronic) and symptoms get worse with time (progressive). As symptoms progress they may interfere with daily activities. Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional problems; difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking; poor bladder control; and difficulty with sleeping.
PD typically develops around the age of 60 years. However, a small number of individuals have symptoms before 50 years (early onset PD). Most people with PD do not have a family history of the disease (sporadic PD). The exact cause of sporadic PD is not known, but it is believed to be due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Some cases of PD are inherited (run in the family) and changes (mutations) in 5 genes are known to be the cause of these cases. These genes include LRRK2, PARK2, PARK7, PINK1, and SNCA. PD caused by mutations in LRRK2 and SNCA is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, which means a mutation in only one gene copy is enough to cause PD; while PD caused by mutations in PARK2, PARK7, and PINK1 is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, which means a mutation in both copies of the gene are needed to cause PD.
PD is usually diagnosed by a doctor who is familiar with movement disorders, such as a neurologist, who can review medical history, signs, and symptoms as well as perform a physical and neurological exam. A doctor may also order brain imaging tests (CT or MRI) to help form a diagnosis. Currently there is no cure for PD, but treatments to help address the symptoms include both medications and therapies. If you have been diagnosed with PD, talk to your doctor about the current treatment options. Support groups can connect you with other families affected by PD.