Parkinson’s disease is a condition that causes a part of your brain, the basal ganglia, to deteriorate. This impacts the amount of dopamine that your body is able to produce. Dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the body; neurotransmitters control communication between your brain cells. Dopamine affects many of your body’s motor functions.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, meaning that its symptoms become worse over time. This condition is often associated with a loss of muscle control, resulting in symptoms such as tremors and difficulty swallowing or moving your face. However, Parkinson’s can also cause a variety of non-motor symptoms, such as depression, incontinence, sleep problems, and even dementia. Some of these non-motor symptoms can appear years or decades before you begin to experience difficulty with muscle control.

The only confirmed cause of Parkinson’s disease is genetic, which can occur due to a gene mutation or inheriting genes that cause Parkinson’s from one or both parents. All non-genetic cases of Parkinson’s are referred to as “idiopathic,” meaning that no specific cause can be identified, although these cases are believed to occur due to a buildup of clumps of proteins called Lewy bodies.

How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?

Parkinson’s disease is typically diagnosed through an examination of your symptoms and medical history. Laboratory and genetic testing may also be used to identify possible indicators of Parkinson’s (such as the presence of certain genes or proteins linked to the disease), as well as to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

How is Parkinson’s disease treated?

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease generally focuses on symptom management, as no cure currently exists. Symptoms are usually managed through medications that boost the amount of dopamine in your body or influence the way your body processes it. An alternative treatment option is deep brain stimulation, which delivers a mild electrical current to the affected area of the brain; this treatment can be used for advanced Parkinson’s or for people who don’t respond to medication.

Parkinson’s disease can be incredibly disruptive to your daily functions and have a significant negative impact on your quality of life, particularly as the condition progresses over time. However, the NYC Parkinson’s disease specialists at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Neurology have the expertise to provide personalized, effective treatment to slow the condition’s progress, allowing you to function independently and maintain a high quality of life. To schedule an appointment, please email