Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease is not an easy or straightforward process as there is no specific test to conclude whether you have the condition. If you believe you have Parkinson’s, the first step would be to see your GP who will discuss your family history and symptoms. Your doctor may order lab tests, such as blood tests, to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
In the early stages, it would be difficult for your GP to say whether you have Parkinson’s. It is likely that you would be referred to a specialist such as neurologist or geriactrician who would carry out some physical examinations and a neurological examination. Your neurologist may suggest a specific single-photon emission computerised tomography SPECT scan called a dopamine transporter (DAT) scan. Although this can help support the suspicion that you have Parkinson’s disease, it is your symptoms and neurologic examination that ultimately determine the correct diagnosis.
Most people do not require a DAT scan. In some cases, Imaging tests — such as MRI, CT, ultrasound of the brain, and PET scans — may also be used to help rule out other disorders. Imaging tests aren’t particularly helpful for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is likely if you have at least 2 of the 3 following symptoms:
- shaking or tremor in a part of your body that usually only occurs at rest
- slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
- muscle stiffness (rigidity)
If you have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, download our advice sheet here or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more specific support.