View Parkinson's Disease Fact Sheet (PDF, 212 KB) »
Parkinson's disease treatment at UK HealthCare
The Movement Disorders Clinic specializes in the evaluation and treatment of disorders of gait, coordination and other aspects of movement including Parkinson's disease.
What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease (PD or Parkinson's) is the most common form of parkinsonism, a group of motor system disorders. About 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's each year. It is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease usually associated with the following symptoms, all of which result from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells
- Tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs and face
- Stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk
- Slowness of movement (Bradykinesia)
- Postural instability (impaired balance and coordination)
What causes Parkinson's disease?
The specific cause of Parkinson's is unknown, however, medical experts believe the symptoms are related to a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by brain-cell death. Parkinson's disease is chronic (persists over a long period of time) and progressive (symptoms grow worse over time). It is not contagious, nor is it likely passed on from generation to generation.
How is Parkinson's disease diagnosed?
Making an accurate diagnosis in the early stages of Parkinson's disease can be difficult and may require observation of the patient for some time. There are several methods for evaluating its presence, including the following.
- Neurological examination - including evaluation of symptoms and their severity
- Trial test of drugs - when symptoms are significant, a trial test of drugs (primarily levodopa, called L-dopa) may be used to further diagnose the presence of Parkinson's. If a patient fails to benefit from levodopa, a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease may be questionable.
- Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
Treatment for Parkinson's disease
Specific treatment for a Parkinson's disease will be determined by your physician based on a number of factors. A cure for Parkinson's disease has yet to be found. However, based upon the severity of the symptoms and medical profile, the physician will establish an appropriate treatment protocol. Treatment may include medications or surgery.
UK Movement Disorders Clinic
National Parkinson Foundation
Medline PLUS® National Library of Medicine