Parkinson’s Disease Causes Tremors and Impacts Mobility

Parkinson’s disease (sometimes referred to as Parkinson disease) is a condition that causes some brain cells to die. The brain cells that are affected help control movement and coordination, so as the disease progresses, people with Parkinson’s disease experience significant shaking (tremors) and stiffness. Parkinson’s disease was named after James Parkinson, an English physician who first described it in 1816. It is also called Parkinsonism, paralysis agitans or shaking palsy.

About 1 million adults in the United States have Parkinson’s disease. If you or a loved one is one of them, Penn State Neuroscience Institute can help.

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook


Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease might be mild at first. Early symptoms of Parkinson’s might include a mild tremor or the feeling that one leg is slightly stiff or dragging. You may also have trouble with handwriting. These symptoms can affect one or both sides of the body. Early symptoms can also include constipation and loss of smell.

As the disease progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Rigid or stiff muscles
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Stooped posture
  • Slow blinking or slowed, quieter speech and monotype voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooling
  • No expression in your face (like you are wearing a mask)
  • Trouble getting up from a chair or couch

A patient with Parkinson’s disease can also experience movement problems, such as:

  • Difficulty starting movement, such as walking or getting out of a chair
  • Slowed movements
  • Loss of small hand movements (writing may become small and difficult to read)
  • Difficulty eating

Tremors can:

  • Occur when your limbs are not moving (resting tremor)
  • Occur when your arm or leg is held out
  • Go away when you move
  • Get worse when you are tired, excited or stressed
  • Cause you to rub your finger and thumb together without meaning to (pill-rolling tremor)
  • Eventually may occur in your head, lips, tongue and feet

As Parkinson's disease progresses, it can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being. Advanced symptoms of Parkinson’s can include:

  • Problems with balance and walking
  • Low blood pressure when you stand up, which may lead to fainting
  • Sweating and not being able to control your body temperature
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dementia


At Penn State Neuroscience Institute, our experts will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a thorough physical examination. There is no specific Parkinson’s test, but sometimes imaging can help rule out other conditions. A special kind of imaging called single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) may help confirm a Parkinson’s diagnosis. But most people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed based on their medical history, a review of signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical exam.

Common Parkinson’s disease symptoms that our experts will be looking for include:

  • Slow in movement
  • Stiffness
  • Shaking (tremors) while resting


At Penn State Neuroscience Institute, it’s our goal to treat your Parkinson’s disease symptoms compassionately and effectively. We’re here for you every step of the way.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but our experts at Penn State Neuroscience Institute will work with you to create a treatment plan to best control your symptoms. If you or a loved one has Parkinson’s disease, take comfort that many medications can help in the early stages of the disease. How well the medicine continues to relieve Parkinson’s symptoms as the condition progresses can vary widely.

Some Parkinson’s patients may benefit from a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS). In DBS, a device called a neurostimulator delivers small electrical signals to the parts of the brain that control movement. If our team thinks you are a candidate for DBS, we’ll talk to you about the benefits, risks and what to expect.

Support Groups

Parkinson’s disease can be stressful not only for the patient, but also for family members and caregivers. Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles. The American Parkinson’s Disease Association offers support groups and other resources for people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers.

Learn more about support groups offered by the American Parkinson's Disease Association.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

The experts at Penn State Neuroscience Institute are committed to providing comprehensive, cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment options for patients with Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. We also provide patient and caregiver services and outreach programs. 

We are committed to furthering research and clinical trials for movement disorders. To learn more about clinical trials available at Penn State Health, visit our StudyFinder. We offer many research opportunities including research on Parkinson’s disease look a likes (such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and multiple system atrophy (MSA).

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