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Treatments for Parkinson?s Disease

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While there is currently no cure for Parkinson?s disease, there are medications and strategies for managing the condition that can enable those who have been diagnosed to live a happy and healthy life. Be sure to consult with a doctor before trying any over-the-counter medicines, supplements, or other treatment that claims to cure Parkinson?s, as the only proven therapies are those prescribed by your doctor. Most treatments for Parkinson’s disease focus on restoring the proper balance of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine. Some of the most commonly prescribed medicines include:

  1. Levodopa
    This amino acid is turned into dopamine in the body and increases levels in the brain. It was the first drug approved for treating Parkinson?s and remains the most commonly prescribed medicine today.
  2. Carbidopa
    This medicine can also be turned into dopamine ? the element that seems to be missing in those with Parkinson?s disease ? once it reaches the brain.
  3. Carbidopa-levodopa
    This combination not only helps with the symptoms of Parkinson?s disease, but is often used by doctors on a trial basis to help with diagnosing the condition. Those who show improvement on carbidopa-levodopa are generally considered to have Parkinson?s.
  4. Entacapone
    This dopamine promotor is commonly prescribed in conjunction with other medications to treat Parkinson?s. Used together with carbidopa-levodopa, it reduces many symptoms for a longer period of time.
  5. Pramipexole
    This non-ergot dopamine agonist chemical activates the D2, D3, and D4 receptors in the brain, directly stimulating them and restoring dopamine signals needed for proper functioning.
  6. Ropinirole hcl
    Another dopamine agonist, this medicine is used alone or with other medications to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s including tremors, stiffness, poor muscle control, and muscle spasms.
  7. Rotigotine
    Another dopamine agonist of the non-ergoline class of medications, rotigotine is used both alone and with other medications for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It may improve movement and decrease shakiness, stiffness, and unsteadiness.
  8. Benztropine mesylate
    This anticholinergic medicine blocks acetylcholine from binding to its receptors on certain nerve cells. Used as an additional treatment for Parkinson?s to treat muscle spasms, stiffness, tremors, and poor muscle control, it also reduces the effects of certain chemicals in the body that can become unbalanced.
  9. Rasagiline
    This is an irreversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase-B used as a single therapy to treat early Parkinson’s disease symptoms or as an additional treatment in advanced cases. It works by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain to treat the symptoms of stiffness, tremors, spasms, and poor muscle control.
  10. Safinamide
    Often used as an add-on treatment for Parkinson’s disease, safinamide reduces the degradation of dopamine. It works by inhibiting glutamate release and dopamine reuptake in the brain.
  11. Trihexphenidyl
    This medication works by altering unusual nerve impulses and relaxing stiff muscles. It is used to treat poor muscle control, stiffness, tremors, and spasms in Parkinson’s.

Surgery is also used in some extreme cases of Parkinson?s disease when medications are not effective. While thalamotomy and pallidotomy were once common surgeries for Parkinson?s, new research has made them largely obsolete. Today, the most common surgical procedure is deep brain stimulation or DBS. Electrodes are implanted in certain areas of the brain to release impulses that cause or restrict other impulses that create the symptoms of the disease. A device similar to a pacemaker is inserted under the skin of the chest to control these impulses, and a wire is placed beneath the skin to connect these two pieces.

Luckily Parkinson’s disease can usually be managed, with most of its symptoms relieved or reduced. Treating Parkinson’s disease often involves a number of specialists, and may include:

  • Neurologists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Registered dietitians
  • Counselors
  • Social workers
  • Surgeons

If you suffer from Parkinson?s disease or are caring for someone with this condition, you may want to seek out support services, reach out to your friends and family, and consider in-home care services. The caring, well-trained team at Specialty Care Services can help.

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