There have been cases of secondary parkinsonism among IV drug users who injected a substance called MPTP, which can be produced when making a form of heroin. These cases are rare and have mostly affected long-term IV drug users.
Confusion and memory loss may be likely in secondary parkinsonism. This is because many diseases that cause secondary parkinsonism also lead to dementia.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the person's medical history and symptoms. Be aware that the symptoms may be hard to assess, particularly in the elderly.
Examination may show:
Difficulty starting or stopping voluntary movements
Problems with posture
Slow, shuffling walk
Reflexes are usually normal.
Tests may be ordered to confirm or rule out other problems that can cause similar symptoms.
If the condition is caused by a medicine, the doctor may recommend changing or stopping the medicine.
Treating underlying conditions such as stroke or infections can reduce symptoms or prevent the condition from getting worse.
If symptoms make it hard to do everyday activities, the doctor may recommend medicine. Medicines used to treat this condition can cause severe side effects. It is important to see the doctor for check-ups. Secondary parkinsonism tends to be less responsive to medical therapy than Parkinson disease.
Unlike Parkinson disease, secondary parkinsonism may stabilize or even improve if the underlying cause is treated. Brain problems, such as Lewy body disease, are not reversible.
Difficulty doing daily activities
Difficulty swallowing (eating)
Disability (varying degrees)
Injuries from falls
Side effects of medications used to treat the condition
Side effects from loss of strength (debilitation):
Robottom BJ, Shulman LM, Weiner WJ. Drug-induced movement disorders: Emergencies and management. Neurol Clin. 2012;30:309-320.
Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.