What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. 

About Parkinson's

People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine in their brain because some of the nerve cells that make it have stopped working.

Around 153,000 people live with Parkinson’s in the UK. And it's the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.

What is ‘Parkinson’s disease’?

Parkinsonism is a term that covers several conditions, including Parkinson’s and others with similar symptoms. Some, including healthcare professionals and people with the condition, call it Parkinson’s disease, or PD for short.

We call it Parkinson’s. We don’t use the word ‘disease’ because some people with Parkinson’s have told us it sounds negative, or like an infectious illness. But unlike the flu or measles, you can't catch Parkinson's from someone.

We don't yet know exactly why people get Parkinson's. Researchers think it's a combination of age, genetic, and environmental factors that cause the dopamine-producing nerve cells to die.

Parkinson’s symptoms

Symptoms start to appear when the brain can’t make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

There are over 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s. But the 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's are a tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness).

Types of Parkinson's

Parkinsonism is a term that covers several conditions. This includes Parkinson’s and other conditions with similar symptoms such as slow movement, rigidity (stiffness) and problems with walking.

There are three main forms of parkinsonism:

  • idiopathic Parkinson's
  • vascular parkinsonism
  • drug-induced parkinsonism

Support for you

Having Parkinson's can feel overwhelming if you don't have the right information and support. We're here to help everyone feel in control of life with Parkinson's.

There are lots of different treatments, therapies and support available to help manage the condition. Our researchers are working hard to develop new and better treatments. And we're determined to develop a cure in the shortest possible time.

Need to talk to someone?

Our helpline and Parkinson's advisers are here to answer any questions you have about Parkinson's.

Call us on 0808 800 0303.