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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder of ageing.1 Every hour, two people in the UK are told they have Parkinson’s.2 As the disease progresses, symptoms appear gradually and slowly get worse. Everyone with Parkinson’s has different symptoms, but the most identifiable are motor symptoms that relate to movement, such as a tremor.3 Parkinson's disease develops with the loss of nerve cells in the brain producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to control movements.4

There is no cure for Parkinson’s but there are treatments and therapies available to help people manage the condition.5
By 2018, there will be an estimated 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK. With an ageing population, the number of people living with Parkinson’s is set to rise by a fifth by 2025.6

Who is affected by Parkinson’s disease?

  • Although it affects both men and women, men have a slightly higher chance of developing the disease.7
  • The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease also increases with age. The age of onset is usually over 50 years.7
  • It is estimated that one in 20 people first experience symptoms when they're under 40.7

Typical Symptoms

The symptoms of Parkinson’s develop gradually. The main symptoms are: 

  • Tremor – shaking which begins in the hand or arm.
  • Slowness of movement – physical movements are much slower than normal.
  • Muscle stiffness – stiffness and tension in the muscles making it difficult to move around.8

How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?

Parkinson’s disease can be difficult to diagnose due to a lack of testing tools and the fact that the disease resembles other neurological disorders. This can cause misdiagnoses.9

What are the goals of treatment?

There is currently no intervention to prevent or cure Parkinson's disease. The goal of treatment is to enable people living with Parkinson's disease to control their disease signs and symptoms for as long as possible while minimising adverse events and to improve their quality of life, with:

  • Medications, such as those that replace the missing dopamine in the brain, restoring normal neuron behaviour and movement
  • Conventional therapies, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy
  • Complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy and reflexology
  • Objective monitoring/tracking of symptoms with different devices adapted to patients' needs10

1 Mhyre MT et al, Parkinson’s Disease. SubCell Biochem, 2012; 65: 389-455 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4372387/

2 The incidence and prevalence of Parkinson’s in the UK. Parkinson’s UK https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-01/CS2960%20Incidence%20and%20prevalence%20report%20branding%20summary%20report%20Published%202017.pdf (last accessed April 2018)

3 Physical symptoms, Parkinson’s UK. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/physical-symptoms (last accessed April 2018)

4 What causes Parkinson's. Parkinson's UK. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/what-causes-parkinsons (last accessed April 2018)

5 About Parkinson's. Parkinson's UK. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/what-parkinsons (last accessed April 2018)

6 Number of people with Parkinson's in the UK set to rise. Parkinson's UK. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/news/parkinsons-diagnoses-set-increase-fifth-2025 (last accessed April 2018)

7 Overview, Parkinson's Disease. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/#whos-affected (last accessed April 2018)

8 Symptoms, Parkinson's disease. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms/ (last accessed April 2018)

9 Path to diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. Health Talk. http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/nerves-brain/parkinsons-disease/path-diagnosis-parkinsons-disease (last accessed April 2018)

10 Treatment. Parkinson's disease. NHS CHoices.  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/treatment/ (last accessed April 2018)