Parkinson's symptom that can start years before hand tremors

A woman looking worried
Around 153,000 people in the UK currently have a diagnosis of Parkinson's -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Around 153,000 people in the UK currently have a diagnosis of Parkinson's and it's the fastest-growing neurological condition globally.

Just over 1% of those with the disease are under the age of 50. The degenerative neurological condition, which has no cure, can present a vast array of symptoms.

People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine in their brain, because some of the nerve cells that make it have stopped working.

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The three main signs of the condition visibly affect physical movement, and when many think of Parkinson's, they think of hand and arm tremors. However, there is one warning sign that can manifest itself years before the onset of tremors.

Dr Beckie Port, head of research communications at Parkinson's UK, previously told the ECHO: "Parkinson's is complex. There are over 40 symptoms which vary from freezing and rigidity to anxiety and sleeping problems.

"It affects everyone differently and no two people present with the same symptoms. Many people tell us they experience symptoms related to their Parkinson's for a number of years before a formal diagnosis, but the dots were never connected."

According to the NHS, the primary signs of Parkinson's are:

  • tremor – usually begins in the hand or arm and is more likely to occur when the limb is relaxed and resting

  • slowness of movement (bradykinesia) – physical movements are much slower than normal, which can result in a distinctive slow, shuffling walk with small steps, and can make everyday tasks difficult

  • muscle stiffness or tension (rigidity) – this can make it difficult to move around and make facial expressions, and can result in painful muscle cramps (dystonia)

However, many people develop anosmia (a loss of sense of smell) some years before any other symptoms occur. The NHS said this "sometimes occurs several years before other symptoms develop".

Other Parkinson's symptoms include:

  • depression and anxiety

  • balance problems (this may increase the chances of a fall)

  • problems sleeping (insomnia)

  • memory problems

Anyone concerned about potential Parkinson's disease symptoms should consult a GP and may be directed to a specialist for more detailed assessments.

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