Quivery finger, family history of Parkinson's.
September 19, 2019 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Should I see a doctor, or am I just being paranoid?

I'm 45, female, USian, with a family history of Parkinson's on father's side. My left forefinger has intermittently started to quiver ever-so-slightly when my hand is at rest. It's barely noticeable; the full range of the involuntary movement is probably a millimeter in each direction. If I didn't spend my day typing, with my hands directly in front of me, I'd probably not have noticed it. There's no pain involved, and it happens only a few times per day. I haven't noticed a pattern to when it happens (stress, sleep, caffeine intake), just that it does so, occasionally.

Is this just something that happens to hands as they age, or to people who type as part of their job? If I should get this checked out, is this something I could talk to my GP about or should I speak to a neurologist?

If any of you have personal experience with Parkinson's and would be willing to discuss (here or in PM) how your/your close relation's symptoms initially manifested, I'd be very grateful.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tremor is definitely not always Parkinsons, but tremor at rest can be a symptom of it. I have been having twitching and tremors and my GP referred me for nerve conduction and electromyogram testing. It turned out to not be neurological, but the tests were relatively non-horrible (some pain with the EMG is all) and knowing what it's NOT is very calming.
posted by wellred at 5:14 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Please get tested. If it is Parkinson's, you can move forward with knowledge and a plan. If it is not Parkinson's, you can be less stressed about it.
posted by bilabial at 5:20 PM on September 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

Michael J. Fox's first noticeable symptom of Parkinson's was a twitching little finger. He wrote in his first memoir that he woke up one morning and his little finger just wouldn't stay still for about 45 minutes. It wasn't a faint tremor like yours, but what he described as "jumping". I would get tested anyway. It would be better to either rule it out or know the truth than to live in fear.
posted by orange swan at 5:35 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Get it checked out. Otherwise, every potential symptom will make you worry, even if you don't actually have Parkinson's. The longer you go without confirmation, the more the paranoia might increase for you. Out of curiousity, have you ever dealt with muscle rigidity? Have difficulty getting up from a seated position? Small handwriting? Those were my father's early symptoms.
posted by acidnova at 5:41 PM on September 19, 2019

am I just being paranoid? You have a tremor, could be from typing, mineral deficiency, or even early Parkinsons. Probably not, but it's not paranoid to check. And if any medical professional suggests that, they're being a jerk.
posted by theora55 at 8:58 PM on September 19, 2019

One of my family members had Parkinson's. Looking back, knowing what we know now based on his various symptoms, it's possible we might have diagnosed it earlier had we thought to inquire. We thought his symptoms were just unfortunate issues that had popped up.

My (very rough) understanding of Parkinson's is you are better off with an earlier diagnosis than not as it may open up more options for you. Especially with the family history you cite.

If it turns out it's not Parkinson's, you might discover something else going on that's worth following up on and you can't properly act without a proper diagnosis from a medical professional (of which I am not). Take care.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 8:59 AM on September 20, 2019

IANAD but my husband had a trembling finger which was so slight he hadn't really paid attention to it (well, actually, he later told me that he'd noticed it but never mentioned it because he didn't want to worry me.) My rheumatologist noticed it during one of my appointments while Hub was in the room with me. He suddenly ignored me and asked my husband to hold out his hands and do a few other tactile exercises. Hub was frightened because his paternal grandfather had Parkinson's Disease. Rheumy ordered a series of tests and it turned out that Hub had a severe thyroid condition. I'm not diagnosing your condition, but I'm hoping that you do consult with a doctor soon. It could be early Parkinson's, it also could not be. Best of luck to you!
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:02 PM on September 20, 2019

Some alternate possibilies...

I have what they call “essential tremor.” My right hand quivers, especially when doing something like lifting a glass to my mouth. But it also quivers slightly at rest. I’ve been like this for about 30 years now. With any luck, this is all that’s going on.

Also, do you happen to be taking buproprion (wellbutrin)? If so, be aware that one of the (rare) side effects can be anything from slight tremor to seizures.

Definitely talk to your doctor, though, if for no other reason than to calm your mind. Unfortunately, if it’s just one finger occasionally slightly quivering, that won’t be enough to make any kind of definite diagnosis. But, your doc will now know to keep it under observation.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:44 PM on September 20, 2019

An acquaintance was diagnosed by the neurologist, 1. watching them walk and then, 2. having them hold up both hands and twist the hands back and forth (like the Queen waving) as quickly as they could. One hand moved markedly more slowly. The doctor was already convinced by watching them come into the office, but the second test prompted him to send them for the big brain-scan that confirmed the diagnosis.

Secretly, when I'm feeling... ? ... I hold my hands up and twist them on the wrists. They are never like my acquaintance's.

just, get checked by a doctor then, some time when you're alone twirl your hands around. Best of luck
posted by From Bklyn at 8:18 AM on September 21, 2019

Fact aside: Parkinson's is not easy to diagnose. There's not a yes / no answer for early stages, typically.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:28 AM on September 21, 2019

Memail me.
posted by basalganglia at 2:19 PM on September 22, 2019

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