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Parkinson's Disease and Related Movement Disorders

Parkinson's disease (PD) is now the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. It is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time and affects predominately the dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Parkinson’s affects many systems in the body but it is often called a “movement disorder” because of the impaired or involuntary movements it can cause.


Parkinson's disease and related movement disorder signs and symptoms can be different for everyone. For Parikinson's, diagnosis usually occurs after age 55 although early onset at a younger age is possible. Some signs to look for can include:

  • Difficulty with balance, posture or gait dysfunction, which may result in falls
  • Resting Tremor, most commonly starting in the hands but can also occur in the tongue, jaw and legs
  • Stiff or rigid muscles (spasticity)
  • Slow movement (bradykinesia)
  • Diminished vocal volume & swallowing function
  • Constipation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lack of facial expression
  • Abnormally small handwriting (micrographia)

Diagnosis and Treatment

For Parkinson’s, diagnosis usually occurs after age 60 although early onset at a younger age is possible. Accuracy and efficiency are a top priority when diagnosing movement disorders. It can be difficult to pinpoint a diagnosis among the many different types of movement disorders. Different disorders can have symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease but may require different treatment. A neurologist will make the diagnosis based on your symptom history, neurological examination, and may use imaging tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.   

There is no standard treatment for Parkinson’s disease it is dependent on the persons' symptoms. Patients need frequent monitoring and adjustments to ensure the long-term effectiveness of their treatments for movement disorders. Treatments can include:

  • Medications
  • Surgery such as Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Rehabilitation Services: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Pathology
  • Mood and Memory Care
  • Injections
  • Lifestyle Changes


The underlying causes of movement disorders and Parkinson's disease vary by diagnosis and sometimes remain unknown. In people with Parkinson’s, the cells that make dopamine are impaired. As Parkinson’s progresses, more dopamine-producing brain cells die. The brain reaches a point where it stops producing dopamine which causes increasing problems with movement. The biggest risk factor for developing Parkinson's is advancing age.

There is some evidence for the role of genetics, environmental factors, or likely a combination of both.

  • Genes: Specific genetic mutations have been identified that can cause Parkinson's disease. However, these are uncommon except in rare cases with many family members affected by Parkinson's disease.
  • Environmental triggers: Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson's disease, but the risk is relatively small.

Contact Us Today!

Call us today to find out more information about your treatment options, to schedule a consultation or to make an appointment.

Physician Spotlight

One of the country’s most accomplished neurosurgeons has joined LPG’s Neurosurgery program. Dr. George Mandybur is a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in treating Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders, epilepsy and brain and spinal tumors. Learn more about Dr. Mandybur here!

Other Types of Movement Disorders Unrelated to Parkinson's Disease

  • Dystonia
  • Chorea and Huntington's disease
  • Ataxia
  • Tremor and essential tremor
  • Myoclonus and startle
  • Tics and Tourette syndrome
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Gait disorders
  • Spasticity
  • Stiff Person Spectrum Disorder
  • Lee Health Parkinson Program

    Bringing people together to share experiences, learn from experts, and find the keys to living well with Parkinson’s disease and related movement disorders.