How is rigidity assessed in a physical exam in patients with Parkinson disease (PD)?

Updated: Jan 24, 2019
  • Author: Robert A Hauser, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

Rigidity refers to an increase in resistance to passive movement about a joint. The resistance can be either smooth (lead pipe) or oscillating (cogwheeling). Cogwheeling is thought to reflect tremor rather than rigidity and may be present with tremors not associated with an increase in tone (ie, essential tremor). Rigidity is usually tested by flexing and extending the patient's relaxed wrist and can be made more obvious by having the patient perform voluntary movements, such as tapping, with the contralateral limb.


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