Rigidity - meaning stiff or inflexible muscles - is one of the main symptoms of Parkinson's, alongside tremor and slowness of movement. Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms.

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Rigidity can stop muscles from stretching and relaxing. It can cause:

  • stiff muscles
  • inflexible muscles
  • pain and muscle cramps
  • a fixed, 'mask-like' facial expression

Someone with rigidity may not be able to swing their arms when they walk because their muscles are too tight and stiff.

Some people with Parkinson's have problems turning around, getting out of chairs and turning over in bed.

Rigidity can also make it hard to do things like writing or doing up buttons.

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  • Regular exercise can help to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility and mobility
  • Physiotherapy may help with muscle cramps.
  • Speech and language therapy may help with exercises to keep facial muscles flexible. Seeing a therapist soon after diagnosis may make treatment more effective.
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Drug treatments for Parkinson's may help with rigidity.

If you are concerned about rigidity please see your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse.

Dexterity and Parkinson's

Parkinson's can make using your hands for small movements tricky. But what is dexterity and how can Parkinson's affect it?

Specialist physiotherapist Bhanu Ramaswamy tells us more and shares exercises that can help improve your dexterity. 

Last updated April 2017. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]