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Parkinson's disease is a gradually progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. There are 4 characteristic problems caused by Parkinson's disease, including tremor at rest, balance problems, stiffness, and slowness of movement.

The Central Nervous System
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Parkinson's disease occurs when areas of the brain, including an area called the substantia nigra, is slowly destroyed. The exact reason for this destruction is not completely known. In some people, it may be related to genetics, environment, or a combination of both. The end result is a deprivation in the brain of an important neurochemical, called dopamine. Dopamine helps regulate movement, and its loss leads to increased tone, rigidity, and slowness of movement. Lack of dopamine results in the symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.

What are the risk factors for Parkinson’s disease?What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?What are the treatments for Parkinson’s disease?Are there screening tests for Parkinson’s disease?What can I do to reduce my risk of Parkinson's disease?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with Parkinson’s disease?Where can I get more information about Parkinson’s disease?

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2016 -
  • Update Date: 05/20/2015 -
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  • Obeso JA, Rodriguez-Oroz MC, Goetz CG, et al. Missing pieces in the Parkinson’s disease puzzle. Nature Medicine. 2010;16(6):653-661.

  • Parkinson disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease. Updated November 14, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.

  • Parkinson disease. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/movement-and-cerebellar-disorders/parkinson-disease. Updated September 2015. Accessed November 29, 2016.

  • Parkinson's disease. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/en/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Parkinsons%20Disease.aspx. Accessed November 29, 2016.

  • What is Parkinson's disease? Parkinson’s Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pdf.org/about%5Fpd. Accessed November 29, 2016.