Point: All of the above may seem true, but it won’t necessarily mean you have Parkinson’s disease. Because this disease can mimic so many other neurological diseases, including Lyme disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Lupus (to name just a few), it is extremely important to get an accurate diagnosis, and that could take years and several opinions of highly qualified doctors.
However, there are markers that are quite prevalent to Parkinson’s disease that should send you seeking a definitive diagnosis, no matter how long it takes.
Here are ten signs that you might have Parkinson’s disease, which exclude the biggie – tremors (because everyone usually associates that one with PD automatically).
- Loss of smell. You notice flowers no longer have a fragrance. Ben-Gay doesn’t knock you out. You can’t smell dinner. If your nose isn’t constantly plugged up, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.
- Loss of facial expression. People ask why you look so sad. People ask why you look so unhappy. Although Parkinson’s disease can alter our moods and cause mild to severe depression, what they are seeing is the affects that PD has on facial muscles. Doesn’t that make you oh, so happy?
- Gait. You trip often. Perhaps even fall. You notice one of your feet won’t keep up with the other and drags somewhat. You may have a shuffling effect like that of a penguin when you walk. No, you are not part bird. You might have PD.
- Soft voice. People tell you to speak up. People are always saying “What?” when you speak, as if they aren’t even listening. They tell you to not speak so softly. You may not be able to help it if it’s Parkinson’s.
- Dystonia. Do your toes tend to curl under in pain? Your muscles seize up and hurt like the dickens? You might be able to blame the disease.
- Handwriting. Did you once get praised for your handwriting? How lovely, legible and readable it was and now it’s barely more than scribble? Could be…
- Stiffness/Rigidity. Is your neck often stiff? An ache in the shoulders/neck area/back? Hmmm…
- Balance. Some people have actually been stopped by authorities who have thought they are dealing with someone who is intoxicated because of the way they are walking. Nope. Just Parkinson’s, but it might make you want to drink.
- Non-Swinging Arm. Someone asks you why only one of your arms swings while you walk. Someone asked Michael J. Fox that same question while he was jogging. His wife. That sent him to the doctor, which for him, was the beginning of a new journey…
- Doctor’s opinion.
What?!? Yes, a doctor’s opinion may be a sign you have PD and I say MIGHT because doctors are not gods and they make mistakes and get it wrong. With Parkinson’s disease, it is not uncommon to be misdiagnosed the first, second, even third go around. As said earlier, it mimics so many other diseases that it can be difficult for some neurologists to diagnose accurately, which is why a doctor’s opinion MIGHT be a sign that you have PD and, in the same respect, that you DON’T have PD.
If you are concerned you may have PD because you’re showing any of the signs above, the best point of action is to make an appointment with a good neurologist – one that has experience with Parkinson’s disease or, better yet, a Movement Disorder Specialist (a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders specifically). And if you don’t like the first diagnosis, get another one. If they differ, get another one. Don’t stop until you are satisfied that you have the correct diagnosis and peace of mind over what you are dealing with. It might not be the greatest news you’ve ever gotten, but at least you’ll know what you’re up against and what you’ll need for your new journey.