“There is no single test for Parkinson’s disease. The diagnostic process for this chronic condition can take a long time. Parkinson’s trials can help diagnose the disease.”

Recent studies have found that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to help find and diagnose Parkinson’s much earlier than other methods. MRIs look for specific markers in the brain that can indicate Parkinson’s. Often, these markers are present even before symptoms of Parkinson’s begin.

“You can learn how to use magnetic resonance images to detect Parkinson’s and other tests used to confirm a diagnosis.”

MRIs use magnets to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Brain MRIs can help doctors spot tumors, brain bleeding, and other brain health conditions. Recently, medical researchers have discovered that MRIs can also spot small changes in the brain that can indicate Parkinson’s disease.

A 2019 study on MRIs and Parkinson’s found that people with Parkinson’s often have visibly damaged brain neurons. The damage to neurons is present before any brain atrophy begins, and before symptoms are present.

“Researchers believe Parkinson’s could be found earlier if they used an magnetic resonance machine to look for damaged neurons. Researchers think that damaged neurons can tell the severity of future cognitive decline.”

Using this information, doctors can prescribe appropriate treatments, such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy, that can slow down decline and improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s.

Because there isn’t a specific test for Parkinson’s disease, doctors instead assess patients and look for key symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremors, slow movements, or stiffness. The presence of these symptoms, along with a review of a person’s medical history, can often be used to diagnose Parkinson’s.

In some cases, a doctor might order tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This can include MRIs and other imaging tests, such as PET scans. It might also include bloodwork, urine samples, and other lab work. This type of testing can’t help diagnose Parkinson’s, but it can help confirm a suspected Parkinson’s diagnosis.

“Parkinson’s can take a long time to diagnose. Doctors will often prescribe Parkinson’s medication before they know if it’s a disease. A person’s response to Parkinson’s medication can be a strong indicator of whether their symptoms are caused by Parkison’s or another condition.”

“Your doctor can begin developing a treatment plan once you have a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Parkinson’s treatments aim to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease.”

“Treatment plans will take into account symptoms, health and response to treatment. There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but treatment can improve your quality of life.”

“Treatments for Parkinson’s are common.”

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve strength and balance.
  • Speech therapy: Speech therapy can help reduce communication difficulties.
  • Lifestyle changes: People with Parkinson’s often benefit from adding exercise to their daily lives.
  • Medication: There are several medications approved to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. You might need to change medications as Parkinson’s progresses.
  • Deep brain stimulation: Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure. Surgeons place electrodes in your brain that are connected to a generator placed in your chest. These electrodes can help reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Questions to ask your doctor

Asking questions is a good idea as you and your doctor discuss a treatment. Asking questions can help you understand your condition and the benefits of treatment. Here are some questions to ask your doctor.

  • “Is it possible that Parkinson’s is causing my symptoms?”
  • Is there more testing I need?
  • How will my condition change?
  • What can I expect when my condition improves?
  • “How will Parkinson’s affect my health?”
  • What treatments are available?
  • Which treatments are best for me?
  • How will the treatments help me?
  • “Will treatment slow down the progression of Parkinson’s?”
  • What are the side effects of your treatments?
  • “What happens if these treatments don’t help?”
  • Can you recommend any resources for me?

“Parkinson’s can be difficult to manage. It is important to have support. There are a lot of useful resources here.”

“You can read more about early onset Parkinson’s by looking at the answers to some common questions.”

What are the first symptoms of early onset Parkinson’s and when should I see a doctor?

There are some early warning signs associated with Parkinson’s. These symptoms don’t always mean a person will develop Parkinson’s but can be a signal that it’s very likely. Symptoms that can act as early warning signs include:

“Parkinson’s symptoms are more distinct once it begins. They include:”

  • Slowing physical movements
  • a tremor or shaking, often in your hand or fingers
  • The muscles are stiff or rigid.
  • Short steps or feet-dragging.
  • Difficult with balance.
  • Changes to posture.
  • The movements of blinking, smiling, and other unconscious people were decreased.
  • speaking in a quiet manner
  • slurred speech
  • speaking very fast
  • Difficult writing and changes to handwriting.

“It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about any early warning signs of Parkinson’s.”

What are the risk factors for Parkinson’s?

There are a few known risk factors for Parkinson’s. These include:

  • “A family history of Parkinson’s.”
  • Being over 60 years.
  • Being male.
  • Exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

“The risk factors only cause a slight increase in risk. Parkinson’s isn’t an indicator if you have one or more risk factors. If you are concerned about your risk for Parkinson’s, talk to a doctor.”

Can I have Parkinson’s without showing symptoms?

“Parkinson’s can have mild symptoms. People with very early Parkinson’s don’t notice symptoms at first. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, symptoms will become more severe.”

Is there anything I can do to slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms?

“Parkinson’s can be treated to help manage symptoms. There is no way to stop Parkinson’s progression. Medical professionals have found ways to slow the progression of symptoms with therapies.”

Diet and exercise are also known to slow down Parkinson’s. Studies have shown that eating a nutritious diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Additionally, getting regular exercise has been shown to slow down symptom progression. People with Parkinson’s should try to get at least 2.5 hours of exercise each week. A physical therapist or another medical professional can help you develop an exercise routine that meets your needs.

“Magnetic resonance machines can help detect Parkinson’s before it develops. Magnetic resonance images can help predict the severity of Parkinson’s symptoms by spotting damaged brain cells.”

“If you get an early diagnosis of Parkinson’s, you can start treatments that can slow down the progression of symptoms.”

“Treatments for Parkinson’s include medications, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, speech therapy, and deep brain stimulation.”