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Types of Parkinson's Disease

author image Jaime Herndon
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.
Types of Parkinson's Disease
Woman helping a senior woman with a walker Photo Credit: Toa55/iStock/Getty Images

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder in which specialized brain cells die, causing a variety of symptoms. There are several kinds of Parkinson's diseases and Parkinson's-like syndromes; all of these types together are known as Parkinsonism. There is no definitive test for any of these types of Parkinson's, but along with a physical exam, neurological exam, imagine studies and patient history, a provider can make a diagnosis.

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Parkinson's Plus Syndromes

Parkinson's Plus syndrome consist of some symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and also other symptoms like muscle weakness and atrophy, significant memory and behavioral problems, autonomic dysfunction and inappropriate eye movement control. Different kinds of Parkinson's Plus syndrome include dementia with lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration. Medical approaches used for treating Parkinson's disease are not as effective in treating Parkinson's Plus syndrome, and patients with this syndrome have a shorter survival time, faster disease progression and more visible disability than Parkinson's disease patients.

Secondary Parkinson's Disease

An identifiable cause for Parkinson's can be found in approximately 10 percent of patients, and with an identifiable cause, these patients can be diagnosed as having secondary Parkinson's. Tests like MRI and CT scans, as well as blood and urine tests, can help rule out causes and provide more information.

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that occurs when neurons in the area of the brain called the substantia nigra begin to die. This interferes with the production of the chemical dopamine, which aids in muscle movement. Symptoms begin to appear when about 80 percent of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged. The main symptoms of Parkinson's include tremors, slow movements, stiffness and balance problems. While Parkinson's is not curable, there are medications that mimic dopamine and help with slowness, tremors and stiffness. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, medications are being explored that may help slow the progression of the disease.

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