Parkinson’s Disease

An early, accurate, in-depth diagnosis can impact treatment and quality of life

Early Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

In the early stage of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms can be subtle and often go unnoticed. Signs and symptoms can be misleading or mimic other conditions, especially during the early stage of disease and in the elderly. There is not one defining symptom, but rather a combination of symptoms, which can include:

  • Incessant or intermittent slight shaking or tremors in hand, finger, thumb, chin or lips
  • Changes in handwriting, usually starting with writing words with smaller letters and closer together
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stiffness in shoulders or hips
  • Loss of facial expressions
  • Dizziness or feeling faint after standing up
  • Difficulty with standing straight

Symptoms may not always tell the whole story

  • Tremors can be caused by medications such as antipsychotics
  • Not all patients with Parkinson’s disease initially have a tremor
  • Rest tremor has been shown to be absent in approximately 23% of patients with Parkinson’s
  • Early symptoms of Parkinson’s may be mild or atypical and do not always match diagnostic criteria
  • Symptoms can overlap or resemble the symptoms of many different movement disorders

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Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis: You Deserve as Much Information as Possible

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.

Simply having tremors does not mean you have Parkinson’s disease. Because Parkinson’s disease symptoms are similar to symptoms of other neurological conditions, the misdiagnosis rate is significant. Approximately 25% of Parkinson’s disease diagnoses are incorrect.

Historically, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease have primarily been diagnosed through clinical examinations, which are often inconclusive and can result in misdiagnosis. Many patients who are currently being treated for Parkinson’s do not, in fact, have it. At CereScan, we use the DaTscanTM procedure to help distinguish between Parkinson’s and other movement disorders such as ataxia, dystonia, essential tremors, Lewy Body dementia, and drug-induced parkinsonism. The DaTscanTM shows how dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is distributed in your brain:

  • Dopamine is an important brain chemical produced by neurons in areas of the brain which control movement
  • When these neurons die or become impaired they produce less dopamine
  • Visualizing the status of the dopamine transporter in your brain can help determine diagnosis
  • Visualization of the dopamine transporter can add clarity to symptom presentation
  • SPECT imaging with DaTscan provides visual evidence of dopamine transporter status to aid in the assessment of your brain and your diagnosis

If you are on medications to treat Parkinson’s and have been misdiagnosed, the side effects may be significant and serious. If you think this might be the case, it’s time to get a clearer assessment. The results of the DaTscan will help your doctor in prescribing the proper treatment regimen. If you do not have Parkinson’s, CereScan can conduct additional testing to determine what may be causing your symptoms.

Parkinson’s Video

The Science Behind CereScan

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