Parkinson’s disease evaluation – how it’s done.
There is no one certain test that can give a definite diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Generally, a family physician will refer patients to a neurologist if enough symptoms suggest Parkinson’s disease. From there, a neurologist can evaluate symptoms and their severity, and use this to make a tentative diagnosis.
One of the most common ways neurologists use to make a diagnosis is to prescribe medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease. If there is a positive improvement of symptoms when the medication is taken regularly, that is often considered enough proof to make a good diagnosis.
Some doctors chose to order brain scans in order to help diagnose Parkinson’s disease. These brain scans can detect abnormal patterns, but there are no clear markers to determine whether these patterns are being caused by Parkinson’s or some other disorder.
As with Alzheimer’s disease, the only sure and positive proof of Parkinson’s disease can only be obtained during an autopsy by seeing the presence of microscopic brain structures called lewy bodies.
Before making a positive diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease, a neurologist generally evaluates patients for five major symptoms:
- posture instability
Most commonly, if a patient exhibits two or more of these symptoms and one of them is either tremors or rigidity, the final diagnosis will be probable Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s Disease Evaluation
When evaluating patients for Parkinson’s disease, the doctor will rule out other possible causes for the patients’ symptoms before a final diagnosis. Some medications have been used to induce Parkinsonism as they can cause similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease. This is part of the evaluation process to rule out other likely causes.
Young patients who show symptoms of Parkinson’s disease often endure tests to be sure their condition is not a metabolic disorder called Wilson’s disease. Wilson’s disease causes symptoms very similar to Parkinson’s disease.
The stages of diseases are a concept often borrowed from terminology to describe how a disease will progress. The stages of disease describe how far advanced the disease is, and often helps determine the method of treatment. Parkinson’s disease has five stages.
Stage one is the earliest, and by stage five the patient will normally be confined to a chair or a bed. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a doctor will discuss with you which methods of treatment would be best, based on the stage of development.