More than a quarter of people with Parkinson's disease were initially wrongly diagnosed as having conditions such as a stroke or anxiety, research has found.
A poll of more than 2,000 people with the condition found 26 per cent were originally told they had something else, while 21 per cent were forced to visit their GP three or more times before finally being referred to a specialist.
Of those who were misdiagnosed, more than one third were given medication for an illness they did not have, while one in 10 underwent a needless operation or procedure.
The poll, for Parkinson's UK, also found that women were more likely to be misdiagnosed than men, and errors were most common in people aged 51 to 60.
Katie Goates, professional engagement programme manager at Parkinson's UK, said: “Parkinson's is an incredibly complex condition with more than 40 symptoms, and it affects everyone differently.
“One of the biggest challenges for Parkinson's research is that there is no definitive test for Parkinson's, and as a result we've heard of people being misdiagnosed with anything from a frozen shoulder or anxiety to a stroke.
“Our survey has shown that because of this, people are being left in limbo and seeing their health deteriorate.”
Around 145,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with Parkinson's every year. Although there is currently no cure for the condition, catching the disease early can help to slow down progression and teach patients how to control symptoms so they can continue normal life for as long as possible.
Signs of Parkinson's can include handwriting getting smaller; tremor, especially in fingers, hands or feet; uncontrollable movements during sleep; limb stiffness or slow movement and changes to voice or posture.