How to Treat Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease isn't curable, but there are medications and other treatments that can help to lessen the symptoms of this nervous system disorder. Those with Parkinson's disease may experience tremors, muscle stiffness and impaired movement that progressively worsen. Here are the methods available to treat Parkinson's disease.


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    Take medications that produce or mimic the affects of dopamine in the brain or prevent the body from breaking down naturally-occurring dopamine. Dopamine can alleviate problems with movement. Some the common medications for Parkinson's disease include:
    • Levodopa is taken in pill form to produce dopamine in the brain. This is the most effective medication for treating Parkinson's disease. Side effects include low blood pressure and involuntary movements.
    • Pramipexole and ropinirole are pill forms of dopamine agonists. They don't produce dopamine, but make the body acts as if dopamine were present. Apomorphine is an injectable dopaminergic agonist that provides fast relief; however, its effects don't last long. Side effects of dopamine agonists include sleepiness, hallucinations, low blood pressure and water retention. It can also cause serious compulsive behaviors.
    • Selegiline and rasagiline inhibit monoamine oxidase B (MAO B) from breaking down dopamine. It may be taken with levodopa. Patients don't commonly experience negative side effects, such as headache, confusion, hallucinations and dizziness. Selegiline should be use cautiously in elderly patients.
    • Entacapone is a catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor that may be taken with levodopa to prolong its effect. Tolcapone is another COMT inhibitor, but it has been known to cause liver damage and failure. COMT inhibitors may intensify the involuntary movements that are a common side effect of levodopa as well as cause confusion, nausea and hallucinations.
    • Benztropine and trihexyphenidyl are anticholinergics, which are used to specifically control tremors. Unfortunately, confusion, impaired memory, dry mouth and eyes, constipation and impaired urination can be bothersome side effects.
    • Amantadine is a glutamate (NMDA) blocking drug that can control symptoms in early states of Parkinson's disease to lessen involuntary movements caused by levodopa. Purple mottling of the skin (livedo reticularis) can be a side effect, along with hallucinations.
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    Exercise to maintain muscle tone. It won't reverse Parkinson's disease, but it can slow the progression.
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    Participate in physical therapy to improve mobility, muscle tone, range of motion, balance and gait.
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    Consider deep brain stimulation to control tremors and other symptoms if you have advanced Parkinson's disease or have inconsistent results from drug treatment. Deep brain stimulation requires surgically implanting electrodes into the parts of your brain that control movement. A wire is placed under your skin from the electrodes to a device under the skin in your chest area. The device controls the amount of stimulation delivered by the electrodes.


  • If your Parkinson's disease is causing trouble speaking or swallowing, a speech therapist may be able to help.


  • Over time, the effectiveness of levodopa is likely to diminish and become inconsistent.

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Categories: Neurological Disorders