What are the symptoms and treatments for Parkinsonism?

Symptom Database

Parkinsonism is a term used to describe a group of movement disorders that share similar symptoms with Parkinson’s disease. These neurodegenerative diseases affect the basal ganglia, a region of the brain responsible for controlling movement. The main symptoms of Parkinsonism include tremors, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), rigidity, and postural instability. While there is no cure for Parkinsonism, various treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected.

Symptoms of Parkinsonism

Parkinsonism manifests through several key symptoms:


Tremors are one of the most recognizable symptoms of Parkinsonism. They typically start in the hands or fingers and can spread to other parts of the body. These tremors are often described as a rhythmic shaking or trembling and tend to worsen when the person is at rest or under stress.


Bradykinesia refers to the slowness of movement commonly observed in individuals with Parkinsonism. It can affect various activities, such as walking, writing, or even facial expressions. People with bradykinesia may have difficulty initiating movements and may experience a general feeling of stiffness or heaviness in their limbs.


Rigidity is characterized by increased muscle tone and stiffness. It can make movements feel jerky or rigid, and individuals may have difficulty with tasks that require fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces. Rigidity can also cause muscle pain and discomfort.

Postural Instability

Postural instability refers to difficulties with balance and coordination. People with Parkinsonism may experience a tendency to stoop or lean forward, making it challenging to maintain an upright posture. This instability increases the risk of falls and injuries.

Treatments for Parkinsonism

While there is no cure for Parkinsonism, treatments aim to manage the symptoms and improve the individual’s quality of life. The primary treatment approach involves medications that help regulate dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in movement control, and its deficiency is a key factor in Parkinsonism.


Several medications can be prescribed to manage the symptoms of Parkinsonism:

  • Levodopa: Levodopa is converted into dopamine in the brain and helps alleviate the motor symptoms of Parkinsonism. It is often combined with carbidopa to enhance its effectiveness and reduce side effects.
  • Dopamine agonists: These medications mimic the effects of dopamine in the brain and can help alleviate symptoms. They are often used in combination with levodopa or as an alternative for individuals who cannot tolerate levodopa.
  • MAO-B inhibitors: These drugs inhibit the breakdown of dopamine in the brain, increasing its availability and improving symptoms.
  • Anticholinergics: Anticholinergic medications can help reduce tremors and muscle stiffness in some individuals.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure that involves implanting electrodes into specific areas of the brain. These electrodes deliver electrical impulses to help regulate abnormal brain activity and reduce Parkinsonism symptoms. DBS is typically recommended for individuals who have not responded well to medication or experience severe motor fluctuations.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing Parkinsonism symptoms. It focuses on improving mobility, balance, and overall physical function. Physical therapists can design personalized exercise programs that target specific motor difficulties and help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy aims to enhance an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and maintain independence. Occupational therapists can provide strategies and assistive devices to overcome challenges related to fine motor skills, such as dressing, eating, or writing.

Speech Therapy

Speech and language difficulties are common in Parkinsonism. Speech therapy can help individuals improve their speech clarity, volume, and swallowing abilities. Therapists may use techniques such as vocal exercises, breathing exercises, and swallowing strategies to address these challenges.


Parkinsonism encompasses a range of movement disorders that share similar symptoms with Parkinson’s disease. Tremors, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability are the main manifestations of Parkinsonism. While there is no cure for this group of neurodegenerative diseases, various treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve the individual’s quality of life. Medications, deep brain stimulation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are among the approaches used to alleviate the impact of Parkinsonism. Seeking early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly enhance the well-being and functionality of individuals living with Parkinsonism.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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