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Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson`s - Autoimmune Connection?

12/20/2010

Question:

I was diagnosed with Graves disease 7 years ago and for about 5 years have had dystonia and tremor that resolve with Sinemet, but no positive diagnosis. Is it possible for an autoimmune disease to affect the nervous system in a way that mimics Parkinson`s?

Answer:

At this time, the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is based on clinical history and findings on an exam. The cardinal features include slowness/smallness of movement, tremor, rigidity (stiffness) and loss of balance. 

The cause of Parkinson's disease is not clear, but there is continued suspicion to suggest a combination of genetics plus possible environmental factors. The connection between Parkinson's disease and autoimmune conditions has not been well established at this time. However, there are several things can mimic features of Parkinson's disease, such as metabolic disorders including thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders. In these secondary causes, treating the underlying problem would be the primary treatment. It is also common that a person with early stages of Parkinson's disease where clinical symptoms are not yet recognized can experience a rapid onset of symptoms due to physiological stress to the body such as times of illness. It is advised that your concern be discussed further with your current health care providers.

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Response by:

Punit  Agrawal, DO Punit Agrawal, DO
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University