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How is Parkinson’s Disease Treated?
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but several medications and therapies can be effective at treating and managing the disease’s symptoms. Some treatments often become less effective over time, and different treatment approaches will probably be required as Parkinson’s disease progresses.
Most of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease manage, in one way or another, the level of dopamine in the brain. By doing so, the medications are generally effective at improving the ability to walk, move, and control tremors. Medications commonly used include:
- Carbidopa-levodopa works by converting naturally to dopamine in the brain
- Carbidopa-levodopa infusion is delivered directly to the intestine. This approach is often used when orally administered carbidopa-levodopa loses its effectiveness.
- Dopamine agonists such as pramipexole, ropinirole, rotigotine, and apomorphine. These medications work by simulating the effects of dopamine in the brain.
- MAO B inhibitors such as selegiline, rasagiline, and safinamide. These medications help prevent the breakdown of naturally occurring dopamine in the brain.
- Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors such as entacapone. These medications can be used to boost the effectiveness of levodopa.
- Anticholinergics such as benztropine or trihexyphenidyl can be used to help control tremors.
Deep Brain Stimulation
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure in which electrodes are implanted in the brain. These electrodes deliver electrical pulses, which are controlled by a pacemaker-likely device that’s implanted under the skin of the chest, to the parts of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease. The electrical pulses block the abnormal nerve signals that cause Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
DBS is most effective at controlling tremors and movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease when it is used in conjunction with levodopa. It is most often used in the late stages of the diseases when the patient’s response to medications alone is no longer consistently effective.
Gregory Michael Pontone, MD, M.H.S.
After completing a medicine internship and residency training in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Pontone completed a two-year fellowship in geriatric…Read More…
“Anxiety disorders are common in Parkinson’s disease (PD), but are not well character…
– Gregory Michael Pontone, MD, M.H.S.
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