Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is just one of several neurologic movement disorders that produce similar symptoms. It is important that the physician you are seeing has experience with all of the different disorders that can masquerade as Parkinson’s disease.
The diagnosis of PD is entirely clinical. It is characterized by tremors, slowness of movements (bradykinesia), stiffness (rigidity), postural imbalance and gait disturbances. In various patients combination of any of the above symptoms can be seen. One of the distinguishing feature of PD from other Parkinson’s like diseases, is its classical response to medical treatment in the early years. According to one estimate, there can be an error of upto 40% in diagnosis when the patient is seen by non-specialist. As there are no radiological (i.e. CT scan, MRI) or blood investigations that can confirm the diagnosis of PD, the onus of diagnosis rests on the physician.
It is very important to make a correct diagnosis. As in some of these diseases, like Progressive supranuclear palsy, Cortico-basal ganglionic degeneration or Multiple system atrophy, people quickly become totally disabled and the surgical interventions in such cases can be disastrous to say the least.