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Update on First Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Illustration of points of pain in the human body

Almost three years ago, I surveyed a number of people with Parkinson’s disease, asking what their first symptoms were.  Many people responded with one to several symptoms they had noticed that got them into seeing a doctor.  Everyone experiences PD differently from beginning to end.  While there are similarities to some degree and we may end up with the ‘same’ diagnosis, no two people experience this disease the same.  To illustrate that point, here is a compiled list of the last article I wrote on the first symptoms experienced in PD, with new entries added.

Please remember, this list is not definitive nor is it posted to serve as a diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease.  These symptoms can mimic those of several other chronic diseases. Only a doctor (specifically recommended is a neurologist or Movement Disorder Specialist) can give an accurate diagnosis for PD or any other movement disorders showing the following symptoms.

First symptoms:

…my arm was shaking uncontrollably – my doctor thought it was a pinched nerve.

…I had tremors in my right fingers.

…my toes curled and pointed uncontrollably.

…First thing I noticed was that I was having a hard time with my balance. …I was working as an order and receiving clerk, so I was on my feet quite a lot. I had this counter that I used when checking in merchandise and I would find myself leaning against it to get some support…I found myself also actually curling my toes to help with balance. To this day the toes on my left foot are curled down. About this same time, I noticed that my hand writing was getting worse and worse and went on to being very small. Then shortly before I was dx with PD, I was walking in the Mall and started feeling very strange and was having a very hard time walking. At this point I also noticed I had little or no arm swing. Shortly after this I was dx. It had taken almost 2 years to get it figured out. Within a few days of starting meds, I felt like a different person.

…right thumb would twitch and I thought it was stress and being over tired. It has progressed to my whole hand and sometimes arm shakes and my head bobbles and when the meds do wear off, I can feel my whole body tremble.

…a tremor in my left hand then my neck would sometimes feel like it was vibrating; arms didn’t swing when I walked. …8 yrs later my balance is bad – I fall sometimes; no tremors because meds help that. …fatigue is horrible. Seems like everything I try to do I end up needing help.

…Left hand tremor, stiffness and slowness for me.

…symptoms of left hand shaking and people kept telling me to ‘speak up’ because my voice was getting softer and softer.

…my hand witting. It had gotten quite small and seemed to always slant down. Then came the balance and my legs started just feeling strange and on my right side I started noticing I had no arm swing.

…thumb shaking / shaky thumbs.

…pain in my right shoulder.

…arm tremors in right arm.

…intermittent pain/spasm in right neck that massages, chiropractors, and acupuncturists could never fix. For five years I had what I thought was an “intention” tremor of right fingers until a friend saw me at rest and said “Is that a little Parkinson’s I see?” Denial. About that time my handwriting was so small even I couldn’t’t read it.

…intention tremor and uncoordinated trying to put shoes on. …ratcheting in neck.

…a right hand tremor and a feeling of unbalance.

…slight tremor on left thumb.

…my left arm would’t swing while I walked. Soon after my left would shake to a point my entire arm is one big tremor. My left flank is on and off in a rigid state.

…tremor, stiffness and slowness in my left hand, combined with dizziness, somewhat sudden loss of coordination and most of all fatigue.

…stiff right neck, tremor and slight weakness left arm, then slightly dragging right leg—but agree most debilitating symptom is fatigue like I always have flu. …tightness in ribs so that I can’t quite take a big breath.

…handwriting became atrocious. Then I discovered I could barely wiggle my right toes. Then it felt like I had to drag my right leg. It seemed dead.

…started with a tremor in my right hand. I had several people ask why my hand was shaking. At that point I also had a pinched nerve on my right side witch made my hand numb.

…handwriting became smaller with each line. I felt “anxious” and tense with slight tremor and dizziness.

…tremor in left hand and extreme fatigue.

…Gait issues/weakness in legs and rigidity had to be my first signs.

…tremors both hands/wrists/arms and even both legs at times too.

…NON-MOTOR symptoms such as multi-tasking, organizational skills, prioritizing, memory, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue (these last 3 have been mentioned). …Restless Leg Syndrome, cramping toes, and there is the loss of the sense of smell, sometimes taste goes along with it. …I began to notice that my right arm didn’t’t swing, I caught the ball of my right foot – wearing new shoes and employer had installed new carpet, I told myself – and would stumble. …my right foot would bounce if I crossed my legs or didn’t’t have it planted. Next came the MJF pinkie flutter, the index finger and then the thumb.

…tremors …then came the pure exhaustion. I felt like just sleeping on my porch, I was too tired to get up and go to bed. My legs hurt bad, had muscle pain and cramps.

…slight tremor in my right hand last year followed by a frozen shoulder. I developed major anxiety that I have never experienced before and then a weird feeling in my right foot that impaired my walking.

…right hand tremor plus a numb feeling in my two little fingers.

…noticed my right thumb shaking… occasional drool is also a symptom.

…fingers not flexible; hard to wiggle/maneuver them…very tired/sore back; trouble walking; slower

…exhaustion…shake uncontrollably when excited, angry or scared. …a gait.

…tremor of my right hand….at times my whole arm would stiffen and ache…shaving was a nightmare. I was in denial for quite a while after diagnosis.

…left hand tremor especially noticeable when I was eating.

…tremor in my left hand. …loss of smell and shoulder problems were also symptoms and I had those years before the tremor.

…balance not so good; handwriting got real pinched.

…left arm didn’t’t swing and I was starting to drag my left foot. …heel made a scuffing noise.

…loss of movement in my left arm.

…tremor in my right hand/foot. …sore joint and even a bump at the sterno-clavicular joint (at the top of the sternum where the clavicle connects to it).

…right leg resting tremor, which got worse with stress…whole right side is affected, hand writing is weird sometimes, thinking it’s not so straight, and I limp a bit

…micrographia (tiny, undecipherable writing).

…the movement of my fingers on my right hand. I couldn’t’t wiggle them. Then I started noticing my back would ache, especially if I was tired.

…lack of coordination with my left side and falling – then tremor in my left hand.

…tremor in left hand; rigidity; terrible handwriting

…loss of right arm swing and right arm dystonia

…my toes curled under on my right foot and were cramping.


… leg cramps and a loss of smell.

…tremor in one index finger only.

…one arm didn’t swing and my food dragged.

…micrographia (small handwriting).

…stiff neck.

…tremor in my righty pinky.

…having trouble swallowing .

If you’ve noticed any of the above signs, don’t panic.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got Parkinson’s or any other disease.  Only an experienced physician can make that call.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s is most likely if you have:

•           At least two of the three cardinal Parkinson’s signs and symptoms — tremor, slowing of motion and muscle rigidity

•           Onset of symptoms on only one side of the body

•           Tremor more pronounced at rest, for example, when your hands are resting in your lap

•           Significant improvement with levodopa, a Parkinson’s drug

If you are experiencing any of the above, it is suggested you see a medical professional’s opinion as to the cause.


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