If you have a little stiffness in your hand, think twice before going to see your doctor - he could wrongly diagnose Parkinson's disease and put you on powerful, and dangerous, drugs, a new study has discovered this week.
Many thousands of so-called Parkinson's patients are being misdiagnosed, researchers have found. They reckon these medical blunders are affecting around 6,300 older people in the UK alone, and this figure could be as high as 50,000 in the USA. Overall, researchers from the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow believe that 1 in 20 Parkinson's cases are incorrectly diagnosed. Older people with stiffness or hand tremors, but who are otherwise healthy, are being diagnosed with Parkinson's and are put on a course of expensive - and dangerous - medications.
One author of the study, Dr Kieran Breen, said: "Some doctors take tremors as the main indication of Parkinson's, but only 70 per cent of actual sufferers have tremors."
The researchers found that, on average, people who are misdiagnosed with Parkinson's take powerful anti-Parkinsonian drugs for around six years.
(Source: Movement Disorders, 2009; November 4: doi: 10.1002/mds.22829).