What is the difference between Parkinsonism vs Parkinson’s disease? In simple terms, Parkinson’s is a disease whereas Parkinsonism is a range of symptoms that are usually seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease, but sometimes occurring as a result of other neurodegenerative disorders.
Unless you are a medical professional, there might appear to be very little difference between Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism.
On the surface, they appear to be exactly the same condition: both are characterized by tremors, stiffness, balance issues, and slowness of movement, but this is where the similarities end.
Whereas Parkinsonism encompasses the four main movement problems seen in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease itself is a progressive and highly degenerative disorder that causes many other symptoms as well as those seen in Parkinsonism.
Parkinson’s disease affects the nervous system and is caused by a gradual loss of brain cells. Some of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are muscle tremors, muscle cramps and rigidity in the joints, problems with balance and movement, and a condition known as bradykinesia (a delay in initiating movement).
There are however many other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including sleep problems, depression, and partial paralysis of facial muscles leading to an expressionless facial mask.
Parkinsonism refers to a broad range of symptoms that are typically associated with Parkinson’s disease. These include muscle stiffness, tremors when resting, balance problems, freezing in the middle of an action, stooped posture, and a slowness to move.
In order to be diagnosed with Parkinsonism, a patient must exhibit at least two out of the six symptoms of Parkinsonism.
What is the Difference Between Parkinsonism vs Parkinson’s Disease?
Although Parkinsonism is most often caused by Parkinson’s disease, there are several other diseases and conditions that can result in the same symptoms. As a result, any patient exhibiting Parkinsonism symptoms will need to undergo tests to establish what the underlying cause of the symptoms is.
Tests that might be carried out include an MRI scan, blood tests, examinations, and an analysis of the patient’s medical history.
As well as Parkinson’s disease, other possible causes of Parkinsonism symptoms are “Parkinson Plus” syndromes.
Certain inherited diseases such as Wilson’s disease, a fairly rare disorder caused by a build up of copper in the brain, and Huntington’s disease can cause Parkinsonism symptoms.
Secondary Parkinsonism symptoms can arise as a result of brain injuries, strokes, and any other condition whereby blood vessels and arteries are obstructed.
Brain inflammation caused by encephalitis can lead to Parkinsonism symptoms, as can hydrocephalus.
Parkinsonism can also occur as a side effect of certain drugs, including recreational drugs such as ecstasy. Some anti-psychotic drugs are also well known to cause Parkinsonism as an unwelcome side effect.
In all cases of Parkinsonism, unless the symptoms can definitely be attributed to Parkinson’s disease, it is vital that the underlying cause is found in order to prevent any further damage to the brain from occurring.