Parkinson's Syndrome vs. Parkinson's Disease: Spotting the Differences - Altoida (2023)

Parkinson's syndrome, also known as parkinsonism syndrome andatypical parkinsonismsyndrome, refers to any condition that involves the types of movement problems seen in Parkinson's disease. This includes movement problems such as bradykinesia (slow movement), tremors, and stiffness of the extremities.

In this article, we will provide information about Parkinson's syndrome vs. Parkinson's disease, diagnosis and treatment, and future methods for early and accurate diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's syndrome Parkinson's disease

In a recent survey of people with Parkinson's disease,more than one in four (26%)participants reported being misdiagnosed. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is essential to receive adequate and effective treatment; however, many conditions can mimic Parkinson's disease.

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Here's a quick breakdown of Parkinson's syndrome vs. Parkinson's disease.

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive diseaseneurodegenerative diseasewhich is more commonly known to affect function and movement, althoughalso affects cognition, especially as the disease progresses. Parkinson's disease primarily affects dopaminergic, or dopamine-producing, neurons in a specific area of ​​the brain known as the substantia nigra. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that transmits signals between neurons and plays a crucial role in movement and motor control.

A lack of dopamine makes it difficult for the brain to coordinate muscle movements and can also contribute to cognitive and mood problems later in the course of the disease. Parkinson's disease patients also lose nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, a chemical messenger in the sympathetic nervous system responsible for controlling a wide range of bodily functions, such as blood pressure and heart rate.

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What is Parkinson's Syndrome?

As mentioned above, Parkinson's syndrome is a general term that refers to any condition that causes the types of movement problems seen in Parkinson's disease. In other words, while Parkinson's disease is the most common cause of Parkinson's syndrome, many other conditions can cause Parkinson's syndrome. These include:

  • Drug-induced parkinsonism (PID):symptoms of parkinson's diseaseIt can be caused by medications. PID is caused by the side effects of certain medications, particularly those that affect dopamine levels, such as antipsychotics and antiemetics.
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP): PSP is a rare progressive neurological condition that causes problems with balance and coordination, eye movement, gait, and eventually swallowing. Other symptoms include sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety, stiffness, speech changes, and falls.
  • Multisystem atrophy (MSA): MSA, formerly called Shy-Drager syndrome, is a general term for a group of disorders in which one or more body systems stop working. Symptoms include muscle stiffness, bradykinesia, tremors, difficulty bending arms and legs, a soft voice, and problems with posture and balance.
  • vascular parkinsonism: Vascular parkinsonism, usually caused by clots forming in the brain from one or more small strokes, can cause Parkinson's-like symptoms. Vascular parkinsonism often affects the legs more than the arms, causing significant problems with walking and balance. Because strokes happen suddenly, the onset of symptoms is often abrupt.
  • Lewy body dementia (LBD): LBD is a neurological disorder that causes progressive dementia. It is clinically characterized by decreased thinking, reasoning, and independent function. People with LBD may also experience visual hallucinations and changes in attention and alertness. Many people with LBD have functional deficits, such as stiff muscles, hunched posture, tremors, and difficulty walking.

Other causes include:

  • Corticobasal degeneration (CBD)
  • brain damage
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • AVC
  • wilson's disease
  • Brain damage caused by anesthetic drugs
  • Certain drugs used to treat mental disorders or nausea (eg, metoclopramide and prochlorperazine)
  • narcotic overdoses

Parkinson Syndrome vs Parkinson's Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment

Currently, there is not a singletest for parkinson's diseaseor Parkinson's syndrome: No brain scan or laboratory tests (eg, blood, spinal fluid, and urine) can provide a definitive diagnosis. Instead, doctors diagnose Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's syndrome "clinically," which means that a diagnosis depends on a medical history, answers to certain questions, a physical examination, and the presence of specific physical symptoms.

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In general, the process for obtaining a diagnosis follows these general steps:

  1. A physical exam and medical history review.
  2. A review of current and past medications
  3. A neurological exam (eg, evaluation of gait, balance, agility, and muscle tone)

There is no cure for Parkinson's disease. Currently, treatments for Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's syndrome are highly symptom-oriented. Doctors usually prescribe a combination of several effective drugs according to the symptoms present in a particular patient. Medicines prescribed to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease include:

  • carbidopa-levodopa
  • carbidopa-levodopa inhalada
  • carbidopa-levodopa infusion
  • dopamine agonists
  • MAO B inhibitors
  • Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors
  • Anticholinergics
  • Amantadina

There is quite a bit of overlap in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's syndrome. Dopaminergic therapy, the most common treatment used for Parkinson's disease, may be effective in treating some, but not all, causes of Parkinson's syndrome. For example, while people with PSP may benefit from dopaminergic treatment (usually at a higher dose than Parkinson's disease patients), people with MSA generally do not benefit from this treatment approach.

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Other common treatments for Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's syndrome include lifestyle interventions (eg, diet and exercise plans), physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Some patients with Parkinson's disease may benefit from a neurosurgical technique called deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Altoida's mission is to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care. To learn more about our precision neurology platform and app-based medical device, contact us!

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What is the difference between Parkinson's disease and Parkinsonian syndrome? ›

As mentioned above, Parkinson's syndrome is a general term that refers to any condition that causes the types of movement problems observed in Parkinson's disease. In other words, while Parkinson's disease is the most common cause of Parkinson's syndrome, many other conditions can cause Parkinson's syndrome.

Is Parkinson's a disease or a syndrome? ›

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking.

Is Parkinson plus syndrome the same as Parkinson's? ›

Parkinson-plus syndromes are characterized by the primary features of Parkinson's disease, including bradykinesia, ataxia, resting tremor, and rigidity but also include additional features such as dementia, cognitive deficits, and cranial nerve impairment.

What is the name of the disease that mimics Parkinson's? ›

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a disease that mimics PD, particularly early in its course, but that comes with additional distinctive signs and symptoms. It is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder. Individuals with PSP may fall frequently early in the course of disease.

What other conditions can be mistaken for Parkinson's? ›

Parkinson's misdiagnosis: Huntington's disease

Huntington's disease causes brain cells to break down. Symptoms can include clumsiness, insomnia, lack of energy, and lack of physical control. Difficulty walking often comes with Huntington's, which is why it could be a reasonable diagnosis for someone with Parkinson's.

What causes Parkinsonian syndrome? ›

Parkinson's disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine.

What is the treatment for Parkinsonian syndrome? ›

Most people with Parkinson's disease eventually need a medication called levodopa. Levodopa is absorbed by the nerve cells in your brain and turned into the chemical dopamine, which is used to transmit messages between the parts of the brain and nerves that control movement.

How do you get Parkinson's syndrome? ›

Scientists believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors are the cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). PD is an extremely diverse disorder. While no two people experience Parkinson's the same way, there are some commonalities. Parkinson's affects about one million people in the U.S. and 10 million worldwide.

What are the three Parkinson plus syndromes? ›

The most common types of Parkinson-plus syndromes are progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multiple system atrophy (MSA), cortical-basal ganglionic degeneration (CBGD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

What is the life expectancy with Parkinson's Plus Syndrome? ›

One study found that assuming an average age of about 72 years at diagnosis, people with atypical Parkinsonism lived on average 6 more years. Life expectancy estimates can vary greatly depending on your overall health.

What is super parkinsons? ›

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)

This is the most common Parkinson's plus syndrome. It causes some of the same issues with movement and your muscles as Parkinson's disease, like stiffness and problems with walking or balance, but it doesn't usually make your limbs shake.

What is the rarest form of Parkinson's disease? ›

Corticobasal Degeneration is a rare type of parkinsonism that affects people from the age of 40, typically between the ages of 50 to 70. It tends to affect one side of the body more than the other initially, gradually spreading over a few years.

Which the most critical stage of Parkinson's disease? ›

Stage 5 of Parkinson's disease is the final and most debilitating stage of the disease and reflects the most advanced progression. Severe stiffness can make it difficult, if not impossible, for a person to stand or walk.

What is a mild form of Parkinson's? ›

Stage 1 is the mildest form of Parkinson's. At this stage, there may be symptoms, but they're not severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and overall lifestyle. In fact, the symptoms are so minimal at this stage that they're often missed.

What is the cousin of Parkinson disease? ›

Multiple system atrophy – the cousin of Parkinson's disease. MSA is a degenerative brain disorder that impairs the body's functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, bladder function and is related to Parkinson's disease.

What is the rarest neurological disorder? ›

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is an extremely rare, degenerative brain disorder. It affects about one in every million people per year worldwide. People with CJD typically develop symptoms later in life and may show changes in behavior, memory troubles, lack of coordination and vision problems.

What is the finger test for Parkinson's? ›

The interlocking finger test (ILFT) is a bedside screening test in which the subject must imitate four bimanual finger gestures without symbolic meaning. We assessed the utility of the test in the cognitive evaluation of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD).

Does Parkinson's show up on MRI? ›

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.

Can stress and anxiety mimic Parkinson's? ›

When faced with a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD), it is understandable to feel depressed or anxious. But mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are clinical symptoms of Parkinson's, just as are slowness of movement and tremor.

What is the earliest diagnosis of Parkinson's? ›

Early symptoms of Parkinson's disease include:

Small Handwriting. Loss of Smell. Trouble Sleeping. Trouble Moving or Walking.

Is parkinsonian syndrome reversible? ›

Parkinson's disease can't be cured, but medications can help control the symptoms, often dramatically. In some more advanced cases, surgery may be advised. Your health care provider may also recommend lifestyle changes, especially ongoing aerobic exercise.

Is parkinsonian syndrome irreversible? ›

Traditionally, the Parkinson's disease (PD) symptom course has been classified as an irreversible progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Is parkinsonism syndrome reversible? ›

The diagnosis of drug-induced parkinsonism is important to recognize, as the syndrome is reversible when the offending medication is removed. This topic reviews the causes, clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of drug-induced parkinsonism.

What is the drug of choice for patients having parkinsonism? ›

Levodopa is the most effective drug for the treatment of symptoms of Parkinson disease. It is particularly effective for helping people who have slowness of movements caused by Parkinson disease, a problem called bradykinesia.

Which drug is most likely to cause Parkinsonian movement symptoms? ›

Among the GI prokinetics, metoclopramide is the most-well-known cause of drug-induced movement disorders.

What are the four key symptoms used to diagnose Parkinson's? ›

There are four primary motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease:
  • tremor.
  • rigidity.
  • bradykinesia (slow movement)
  • postural instability (balance problems)

Can stress cause parkinsons? ›

Research suggests that stressful life events may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease. In addition, animal studies indicate that stress damages dopamine cells, resulting in more severe parkinsonian symptoms. In humans, acute stress can worsen motor symptoms, including bradykinesia, freezing, and tremor.

What is usually the first symptom of Parkinson disease? ›

The first symptom may be a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder may also cause stiffness or slowing of movement.

What toxins cause Parkinson's? ›

Environmental Factors in Parkinson's Disease

These substances include the insecticides rotenone and permethrin (which may be found in clothing or nets treated to kill mosquitoes, for example); organochlorines, such as beta-hexachlorocyclohexane; and the herbicides paraquat and 2,4- dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

What bacteria causes Parkinson's? ›

Gut bacteria responsible for increased H2S production, especially the mucus-associated species of the bacterial genera belonging to the Desulfovibrionaceae and Enterobacteriaceae families, are likely play a role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.

What is Punding behavior in Parkinson's? ›

Punding, a peculiar stereotyped behavior characterized by intense fascination with complex, excessive, non-goal-oriented, repetitive activities, is a quite rare condition complicating Parkinson's disease (PD). It is triggered by dopaminergic therapy and could have a strong impact on patient quality of life.

What are the last stages of Parkinson's before death? ›

Symptoms of end-stage Parkinson's disease include very limited mobility, extremely slow movements, falls, and cognitive and psychotic problems. Hospice care may be considered when patients have a life expectancy of six months or less.

How long has Michael Fox had Parkinson's? ›

The actor who played Marty McFly in the 'Back to the Future' trilogy has lived with Parkinson's since 1991 and has raised $1 billion through his foundation to research the disease.

Can Parkinson's cause sudden death? ›

Unfortunately, many studies have shown that individuals with PD have a higher risk of mortality than the general population, and sudden unexpected death in Parkinson's disease (SUDPAR), an unusual but fatal event, also occurs.

What is worse than Parkinson's disease? ›

Experts consider it an atypical parkinsonian syndrome (or Parkinson-plus disorder). Healthcare providers often misdiagnose PSP as Parkinson's disease, especially in the early stages of the condition. But PSP progresses faster than Parkinson's disease. The condition most commonly affects people over the age of 60.

What is Richardson's syndrome? ›

Progressive supranuclear palsy: Richardson syndrome (PSP-RS)

This syndrome is the most common form of PSP that typically starts above age 50 with balance disturbances that lead to unexplained falls, often backward without loss of consciousness. Patients may develop gait instability with broad-based steps.

What disease does Linda Ronstadt have? ›

Ronstadt was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2012. Her condition was rediagnosed in 2019 as also having progressive supranuclear palsy, an incurable degenerative disease. Under either name, her singing career came to an abrupt end and her life was profoundly changed.

At what stage of Parkinson's does dementia start? ›

The diagnosis is Parkinson's disease dementia when a person experiences dementia at least one year (and usually several years) after the onset of symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease symptoms may include changes in movement like a tremor.

What personality changes with Parkinson's? ›

Depression, apathy and withdrawal from things a person previously enjoyed are another frequent symptom. Anxiety and depression occur in about 40% to 50% of Parkinson's patients at one time or another over the course of the disease.

How fast does Parkinson's usually progress? ›

In most cases, symptoms change slowly, with substantive progression taking place over the space of many months or years. Many people with PD have symptoms for at least a year or two before a diagnosis is actually made.

Can you drive with mild Parkinson's? ›

Yes. When you are diagnosed with Parkinson's, you must tell the licensing agency (DVLA OR DVA) straight away and talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse (if you have one). Having the condition doesn't necessarily mean that your licence will be affected, but you may need to have a medical or driving assessment.

What does early stage Parkinson's feel like? ›

Many people associate Parkinson's disease with tremors or shaking of their hands. While this is a common symptom, other important symptoms include stiffness of muscles and slowing of movement. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease usually start on one side of the body.

Can Parkinson's stay mild for years? ›

While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, many patients are only mildly affected and need no treatment for several years after their initial diagnosis. However, PD is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time.

What does parkinsonian syndrome mean? ›

Overview. Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. Symptoms start slowly. The first symptom may be a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder may also cause stiffness or slowing of movement.

Is Parkinson's disease part of parkinsonism? ›

"Parkinsonism" is the umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of tremors, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement. Parkinson's disease is the most common type of parkinsonism, but there are also some rarer types where a specific cause can be identified.

Does parkinsonism lead to Parkinson's disease? ›

What is the difference between parkinsonism and Parkinson's disease? Parkinsonism refers to several conditions — including Parkinson's disease — that have similar symptoms and features. However, Parkinson's disease makes up about 80% of all cases of parkinsonism, making it the most common form by far.

What toxins can cause Parkinson's disease? ›

Environmental Factors in Parkinson's Disease

These substances include the insecticides rotenone and permethrin (which may be found in clothing or nets treated to kill mosquitoes, for example); organochlorines, such as beta-hexachlorocyclohexane; and the herbicides paraquat and 2,4- dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

Is parkinsonism an autoimmune disease? ›

Parkinson's disease (PD) is actually an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity occurs when immune homeostasis is broken by several main mechanisms shown in this figure, which directly result in an increase in error recognition and self-attack and a decrease in self-tolerance to autoantigens.

Is parkinsonism a form of dementia? ›

The Differences Between Parkinson's Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. The advanced cognitive changes that impact daily living in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are both types of dementia. Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD) can occur as Parkinson's advances, after several years of motor symptoms.

What type of Parkinson's does Michael J Fox have? ›

Fox and Parkinson disease to put this matter in a medical perspective. The 37-year-old Canadian actor Michael J. Fox has Parkinson disease, a progressive degenerative disease of the part of the brain called the substantia nigra that controls movement.

What is the life expectancy of parkinsonism? ›

Individuals with PD may have a slightly shorter life span compared to healthy individuals of the same age group. According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, patients usually begin developing Parkinson's symptoms around age 60 and many live between 10 and 20 years after being diagnosed.


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