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Treating Parkinson’s Disease: An Overview

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease has greatly improved over the years. Today, there are many treatments that can ease symptoms and improve your quality of life. These include medications that help you control your movements. Staying active is also important. And if medications aren’t helping, surgery may be an option.

Pharmacist handing prescription to woman.

Medications

Medications are the most important treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Most types replace missing dopamine, or imitate the way dopamine works in the brain. This helps you have better control over your movements. If needed, your doctor may also prescribe medications for constipation, sleep problems, and other symptoms.

Activity and Exercise

Staying active is another vital part of treatment. Regular exercise helps keep your muscles strong and loose. It’s also crucial for overall health. If you’re already active, stick with your routine as much as you can. If you’re not active, now’s the time to start. Ask your doctor which activities are best for you. It also helps to do activities that engage your mind. These include hobbies, crafts, reading, and socializing with friends.

Surgery

Surgery is not a cure. But it may be an option for people whose symptoms are no longer well controlled by medications:

  • Deep brain stimulation is the most common type of surgery. A thin wire is implanted in the part of the brain that controls movement. Electrical pulses are then sent through the wire. This can help disrupt brain activity that causes symptoms.

  • Lesioning (pallidotomy and thalamotomy) destroys a small amount of tissue in a specific part of the brain. This can help you have better control over your movements by blocking activity in the brain that causes symptoms. But, deep brain stimulation is the type of surgery preferred in most situations. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Bernstein, Allan L, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Merrilees, Jennifer, RN, MS, PhD
Last Review Date: 10/12/2011
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