What's the treatment for Parkinson's disease?
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease. The major goal of treatment is to prevent deterioration. Symptoms can usually be well controlled for several years in the early stages of the disease. Treatment is very individualized for this complicated disease. Patients must work closely with physicians and therapists throughout the course of the disease to customize a program suitable for their particular and changing needs. Patients should never change their medications without
consulting their physicians, and they should never stop taking their medications abruptly.
There are several different drugs available to treat Parkinson's disease. None of these will cure the disease or stop the progression of symptoms, but they can help with movement and keep you functioning as close to normal as possible. Medications commonly prescribed include levodopa, which helps the brain make dopamine; bromocriptine and pergolide, also dopamine-like drugs; selegiline, a drug that slows the breakdown of dopamine; amantadine, which is also used to treat flu, but has mild anti-Parkinsonian effects; and anticholinergic drugs, such as benztropine, trihexyphenidyl, orphenadrine, certain antidepressants, and antihistamines. Anticholinergic drugs block the neurotransmitter acetycholine from causing smooth muscle contraction. Dopamine and acetycholine often counteract each other in the brain. Most of these drugs are prescribed with levodopa, also called L-dopa.
The treatment of Parkinson's disease mainly relies on replacing dopamine with levodopa (L-DOPA) or mimicking its action with dopamine agonists such as pramipexole, ropinirole, pergolide or bromocriptine. Discovered as a Parkinson's treatment by Arvid Carlsson, levodopa is a dopamine precursor that is transfomed into dopamine by the brain. Levadopa is almost always supplemented with carbidopa, a drug which prevents levodopa from being metabolized in the gut, liver and other tissues, thus allowing more levodopa to reach the brain and allowing for a reduced dosage, thus reducing some of the side effects. The most frequent side effects of these dopaminergic drugs are nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, involuntary writhing movements and visual hallucinations. Often times, the treatment of the Parkinson's patient with these two drugs can result in them very much "coming back to life" in the eyes of their family and doctors, to the point of them appearing to not have any disease at all. However, the drugs aren't effective forever. Sometimes a point is reached where the drugs only work for a few hours, or become completely ineffective.
Surgery for Parkinson's disease is only recommended when all other treatments have failed. Surgical options include deep brain stimulation, with electrodes placed after brain mapping, and precise destruction of targeted areas in the brain responsible for the most troubling symptoms. A hotly debated procedure that holds great promise is the transplantation of fetal brain tissue. Cells that can make dopamine are either transplanted from a nonviable fetus or from genetically engineered brain tissue grown in culture.
Physical therapy, especially, can be extremely helpful for people with Parkinson's disease - both in the early stages and later, as the disease progresses. It can help improve mobility, range of motion and muscle tone. Although specific exercises can't stop the progress of the disease, improving muscle strength can help you feel more confident and capable. A physical therapist can also work with you to improve your gait and balance. For many people, working with a speech pathologist can help improve problems with speaking and swallowing.
More information on Parkinson's disease
What is Parkinson's disease? - Parkinson's disease is a progressive and degenerative movement disorder with primary motor symptoms. Parkinson's disease results from degeneration of dopamine-releasing neurons of the substantia nigra.
What causes Parkinson's disease? - The immediate cause of Parkinson's disease is degeneration of brain cells in the area known as the substantia nigra, one of the movement control centers of the brain.
Who're the risk factors for Parkinson's disease? - Age is one of the main risk factors for Parkinson's disease. Reduced estrogen levels may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease.
What're the complications of Parkinson's disease? - Dementia is the common complication of elderly Parkinson patient. Parkinson's disease poses a triple threat on the emotional health of its victims.
What're the stages Parkinson's disease? - Parkinson's disease may also be described by five stages: stage I (mild or early disease), stage II, stage III (moderate disease)...
What're the early symptoms of Parkinson's disease? - Early symptoms may include slight tremor or stiffness, a reduced sense of smell, a tendency to reduce body movements, difficulty walking.
What're the symptoms of Parkinson's disease? - Symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremor, muscle stiffness, abdominal cramps, rapid speech with little expression in the voice, problems with sleeping.
How is Parkinson's disease diagnosed? - Diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is based on symptoms. There is no specific diagnostic procedure or laboratory test to establish the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
What're the treatments for Parkinson's disease? - There is no cure for Parkinson's disease. The treatment of Parkinson's disease mainly relies on replacing dopamine with levodopa.
What medications cure Parkinson's disease? - Drugs currently used to treat Parkinson's disease make movement easier and can prolong function for many years. The pharmacological treatment of Parkinson's disease is complex.
What about surgeries for Parkinson's disease? - Surgery for Parkinson's disease include pallidotomy, thalamotomy, deep-brain stimulation, and transplantation.
What about physical therapy for Parkinson's disease? - Following a program of regular exercise can help people with Parkinson's disease maintain mobility. Physical therapy can help Parkinson's disease patient.
What is l-dopa (levodopa)? - Levodopa, or L-dopa, which is converted to dopamine in the brain, remains the gold standard for treating Parkinson's disease.