Parkinson’s disease symptoms: The worrying sign in your feet to watch out for

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition whereby the signals communicated between the brain and nervous system are disrupted. This causes a number of impairments, many of which relate to movement. The symptoms are often subtle at first but become quite pronounced as the condition advances.

According to the NHS, the three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease affect physical movement:

  • Tremor – shaking, which usually begins in the hand or arm and is more likely to occur when the limb is relaxed and resting
  • slowness of movement (bradykinesia) – physical movements are much slower than normal, which can make everyday tasks difficult and result in a distinctive slow, shuffling walk with very small steps
  • Muscle stiffness (rigidity) – stiffness and tension in the muscles, which can make it difficult to move around and make facial expressions, and can result in painful muscle cramps (dystonia).

Many people describe a particular type of movement issue as feeling like their feet are “glued” to the ground.

According to Parkinson’s UK, this is known as “freezing”, whereby you are suddenly not able to move forward for several seconds or minutes.

As the charity explains, you may also feel like your lower half is stuck, but the top half of your body is still able to move.

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“You may experience this interruption to movement when you start to walk or while walking,” the health body says.

It adds: “However, freezing might also affect you during other activities such as speaking, or during a repetitive movement like writing.”

According to the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA), the exact cause of freezing is unclear, but it is thought to occur when there is an interruption to a familiar or automatic sequence of movements.

During walking, freezing is mainly observed when:

  • You are walking towards doorways, chairs or around obstacles
  • You are turning or changing direction, especially in a small space
  • You are distracted by another task when you are walking.
  • You are in places that are crowded, cluttered or have highly patterned flooring.
  • The ‘flow’ of your walking is interrupted by an object, by someone talking, or if you begin to concentrate on something else. All of these will stop you from being able to keep a rhythm going.
  • Your medication is ‘wearing off’ and no longer controlling symptoms as well.
  • You’re in a group situation or in conversation.

How to respond to the warning signs

“See your GP if you’re concerned you may have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,” says the NHS

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Your GP will ask about your symptoms and your medical history to help them decide whether it’s necessary to refer you to a specialist for further tests, the health body explains.

Am I at risk?

It’s not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson’s disease occurs, although research is ongoing to identify potential causes.

Currently, it’s believed a combination of genetic changes and environmental factors may be responsible for the condition.

“It is estimated that only a very small number of people may have an increased risk of Parkinson’s linked to their genes,” explains Parkinson’s UK.

As the charity explains, there is some evidence that environmental factors (toxins) may cause dopamine-producing neurons to die, leading to the development of Parkinson’s.

Dopamine is the chemical that acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and co-ordinate body movements.

“In particular, there has been a great deal of speculation about the link between the use of herbicides and pesticides and the development of Parkinson’s,” adds Parkinson’s UK.

Certain dietary decisions have also been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s.

Studies have suggested consuming dairy products could be linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

A study, published in Neurology, has shown that total dairy intake was not associated with a significant risk of Parkinson’s.

However, daily consumption of low-fat or skim milk instead of full-fat milk was linked to a 39 percent higher chance of Parkinson’s disease.

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The study suggests that as many as 42 percent of all people with PD are affected by RBD.

Researchers have, for a while now, confirmed the link between PD and RBD.

A faster motor progression and higher risk for cognitive decline is more common among people with PD who also have RBD.

RBD has also been shown to be a significant early sign for both PD with cognitive impairment and PD with dementia.

RBD is also considered a prodromal symptom of PD, meaning it can happen well in advance of other untoward symptoms linked to this condition.

Parkinson’s disease: The hidden warning sign which lies in your toilet habit

Parkinson’s disease symptoms mainly relate to movement because the illness involves a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and coordinate body movements. If these nerve cells die or become damaged, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced. This effect on one’s dopamine levels can often impact the bladder causing urinary problems which could be an early warning sign of the condition.

Why urinary problems may occur in Parkinson’s disease

For those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the bladder can be affected due to fluctuations in the dopamine levels.

This in turn affects the bladder muscles and nerves and will impact how it functions.

Parkinson’s disease is also thought to impact the nerve pathway located between the bladder and the area of the brain which controls bladder function.

For a person suffering from bladder and urinary issues caused by Parkinson’s disease, it’s important not to cut down on the amount of fluids drank.

Cutting down on your fluid intake won’t help with bladder problems and might leave a person dehydrated.

However, cutting down on caffeine is said to be beneficial as this can often make bladder symptoms worse.

Trying to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and avoiding stress incontinence will also be beneficial.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms: An embarrassing night time accident could be a warning sign

Non-motor symptoms do not relate to movement, yet they can still cause disruption to a person’s life. An embarrassing night time accident could be a warning sign of the condition.

The European Parkinson’s disease Association (EPDA) explained what causes Parkinson’s.

Specifically, there is a loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain – why this occurs in the first place is yet to be explored.

In addition to the presence of microscopic protein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, autonomic dysfunction can occur.

Autonomic dysfunction is an example of a non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

This term, “autonomic dysfunction”, describes when the autonomic nervous system (ANS) stops working.

The ANS is part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) that controls involuntary or unconscious actions within the body.

For example, the ANS regulates the heart rate, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, digestion and sexual function.

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One sign the ANS has gone haywire can reveal itself in an embarrassing occurrence during nighttime – bedwetting.

Bladder problems, including urgency, frequency and incontinence could be a result of Parkinson’s.

The bladder

The bladder has two main responsibilities: storing urine and periodically eliminating urine.

Typically, the bladder expands like a balloon when full, signalling to you that you need to go to the toilet.


As it continues to fill, more urgent signals are sent so that you’re influenced to release yourself.

However, the sphincter muscles surrounding the urethra (where urine exits the body) maintain a watertight seal, enabling the person to delay emptying their bladder.

This enables a person to be able to choose when they do and do not use the toilet.

When a healthy individual decides to urinate, the brain sends a signal to the bladder telling it to contract; moreover, the sphincter muscle relax, enabling urine to exit the body.

According to the EPDA, the bladder can hold around half a litre of urine; and an average person urinates between four to six times per day.

Parkinson’s can affect bladder control, as the brain can’t signal to the bladder to retain or expel urine.

This type of symptom doesn’t affect everyone with Parkinson’s, as the condition is unique to everybody who experiences it.

Instead of having trouble with the bladder, one could suffer from constipation.

Other examples of autonomic dysfunction include swallowing difficulties (known as dysphagia) and low blood pressure.

An inability to regulate body heat may reveal itself when a person with the condition profusely sweats, even though it’s not warm.

And people with the condition may experience loss of sense of smell or taste.

There are an array of symptoms that can arise from Parkinson’s, so if you’re concerned do speak with your GP.

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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects a part of the brain called substantia nigra. Nerve cells in this region of the brain are responsible for regulating movement. That’s because they produce a chemical called dopamine that acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and coordinate body movements. A loss of nerve cells in this area of the brain subsequently reduces the amount of dopamine released.

How to respond

See your GP if you’re concerned you may have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, advises the NHS.

“Your GP will ask about your symptoms and your medical history to help them decide whether it’s necessary to refer you to a specialist for further tests,” says the health body.

In the early stages, your GP may find it difficult to say whether you definitely have the condition because symptoms are usually mild, it adds.

Am I at risk?

It’s not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson’s disease occurs, although research attributes it to a number of factors.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation (PF), most experts agree that Parkinson’s is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

As the PF explains, the interactions between genes and the environment can be quite complex.

“Some environmental exposures may lower the risk of Parkinson’s, while others may increase it,” it says.

Environmental Risk Factors include:

  • Head Injury: Traumatic brain injury — injury that results in an alteration in level of consciousness — has been associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s years after the injury; however, the mechanisms underlying this are unclear.
  • Area of Residence: There are differences in the geographic distribution of Parkinson’s. These could be due to differences in environmental factors and genetic risk factors.
  • Occupation: Certain occupational categories or job titles have been associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson’s, but results have been inconsistent.
  • Pesticide and Herbicide Exposure: A strong link has been shown between Parkinson’s and exposure to pesticides and herbicides.
  • Exposure to Metals: Occupational exposures to various metals have been suggested to be related to the development of Parkinson’s. But long-term exposure to metals is not easily measured and the results of studies measuring Parkinson’s risk and specific metals have been inconsistent.
  • Solvents and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a solvent used in many industries and is the most common organic contaminant in groundwater. Exposure to TCE was found to be associated with Parkinson’s among workers whose factory jobs resulted in long-term exposure. PCBs have been found in relatively high concentrations in the brains of people who had Parkinson’s. Occupational exposure to PCBs has been associated with greater risk of Parkinson’s in women, but not in men.

According to the NHS, the evidence linking environmental factors to Parkinson’s disease is inconclusive.

Genetic factors may be more conclusive but they are believed to be less common, says the health body.

Parkinson’s disease can run in families as a result of faulty genes being passed to a child by their parents, for example.

But, as the NHS explains, it’s rare for the disease to be inherited this way.

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Can I reduce my risk?

Research into the causes of Parkinson’s is ongoing but evidence does suggest you can reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle decisions.

Several prospective studies that followed tens of thousands of people for many years have shown a correlation between exercise earlier in life and a reduced chance of developing Parkinson’s later on.

Exercising in your 30s and 40s — decades before Parkinson’s typically occurs — may reduce the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease by about 30 percent, reports the Harvard Health Letter.

Dr. Edward Wolpow, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., and a member of the Health Letter’s editorial board, urged his patients with early Parkinson’s to work on building up their strength, balance, and endurance, “because they will be needed later on.”

Parkinson’s disease warning – the 'unpleasant sensation' that you may be ignoring

Parkinson’s disease is a condition that causes the brain to become progressively more damaged over time, said the NHS. You could be at risk of the neurodegenerative condition if you develop persistent fatigue that filters through your entire body, it’s been revealed.

Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of nerve cells in a specific part of the brain.

These nerve cells are used to help send messages between the brain and the nervous system.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms tend to develop gradually, and only appear as mild at first.

One of the key early warning signs of the neurodegenerative condition is unexplained tiredness, it’s been revealed.

READ MORE: Parkinson’s disease symptoms – feel like this in the evening?

“Fatigue is a common but under-recognised problem for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said APDA.

“Fatigue can be defined as an unpleasant sensation of lacking energy, making the performance of routine activities, physical or mental, a strain.

“When people with Parkinson’s disease are asked about fatigue, they use phrases such as, ‘I feel run down, I am out of energy, I am unable to do anything, I can’t get motivated’.

“Multiple studies in the United States and Europe show that about one-third of people with PD consider fatigue their single most bothersome symptom.”

Parkinson’s disease symptoms: Do you often feel like this in the evening? Early sign

Other non-motor symptoms can include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mild cognitive impairment – slight memory problems and problems with activities that require planning and organisation
  • Dementia – a group of symptoms, including more severe memory problems, personality changes, seeing things that are not there (visual hallucinations) and believing things that are not true (delusions).

Am I at risk?

It’s not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson’s disease occurs, although research has identified some risk factors.

According to a review

Some researchers also feel environmental factors may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

It’s been suggested that pesticides and herbicides used in farming and traffic or industrial pollution may contribute to the condition.

The evidence linking environmental factors to Parkinson’s disease is inconclusive, however, notes the NHS.

Genetics may also play a role too.

Parkinson’s disease can run in families as a result of faulty genes being passed to a child by their parents – but it’s rare for the disease to be inherited this way, says the NHS.

published in JAMA Network Open, men who lack physical activity have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Among the most significant findings in the review was that participants who did the most amount of physical activity had a 29 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s compared to those who did not engage in any moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Parkinson’s disease: Are you having trouble holding household objects? It could be a sign

Pay attention to the way a loved one – or yourself – hands a cup of tea to somebody. Watch the hand… is it shaking? This could be indicative of the neurological condition.

Dr Rachel Dolhun explained age increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s, and the average age of diagnosis is 60 years old.

Classic motor symptoms include a tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement.

Delving into the facts surrounding a Parkinson’s tremor, there are two types: an action tremor and a resting tremor.

The informative charity Parkinson’s UK differentiates between the forms of tremors.

An action tremor (i.e. uncontrollable shaking) can happen when passing a cup of tea to somebody else, or trying to drink from a cup yourself.

It could also appear when reading from a book, magazine, newspaper or tablet.

A resting tremor, on the other hand, might occur when your body is still and relaxed.

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For example, while lying in bed, a common resting tremor is known as the “pill-rolling” kind.

This is when it looks as though you’re trying to roll a pill between your thumb and index finger.

As the condition varies from person to person, not everybody with Parkinson’s will experience a tremor.

This is why it’s helpful to be aware of the other symptoms associated with the condition.


The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research noted how there is one symptom that everybody with the condition will experience – “slowness”.

Also known as bradykinesia, it’s described as the “decrease in spontaneous and voluntary movement”.

This may include walking more slowly, the arms not swinging by the side, or decreased blinking or facial expression.

Other motor problems include difficulty with balance and coordination (i.e. postural instability).

There are other physical changes a person may experience if they have the condition.

For instance, a person with Parkinson’s could start to drool due to a build-up of saliva that they can’t voluntarily swallow.

In addition to drooling, there could be swallowing issues, resulting in choking, coughing and clearing the throat when eating and drinking.

There could be a decreased ability to detect odours and slight vision changes, such as dry eyes, double visions and trouble reading.

Parkinson’s can affect the automatic functions our bodies perform to keep us alive.

This can lead to low blood pressure when changing positions, from sitting to standing, for example.

This can cause lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting, which can put someone at greater risk of injury.

Moreover, a person with the disease may sweat profusely, even when not hot or anxious.