Parkinson's Disease Treatment -- Mayo Clinic
Parkinson's Disease Treatment
No cure exists for Parkinson's disease, but medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes can help manage its symptoms.
Prescription drugs are the most common, and usually the first, type of treatment given for Parkinson's disease.
But there are several other therapies that can help manage Parkinson's disease and its symptoms. (1)
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) uses an electrode to stimulate certain parts of the brain, much like a cardiac pacemaker. (2)
Although DBS is the most common surgery for Parkinson's disease, it's not appropriate for everyone.
In this procedure, a pulse generator (with a battery pack) is implanted in the chest near the collarbone. A wire from the generator sends finely controlled, painless electrical signals to the brain to interfere with signals that cause the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. (2)
DBS can be used on one or both sides of the brain. For whichever side of the brain it's used, it will mainly affect the opposite side of the body.
If you get DBS surgery, you may have to return to the medical center frequently for a few months to have the stimulation carefully adjusted. After the first few months, you will need it checked occasionally.
The battery pack in the pulse generator needs to be replaced every three to five years.
DBS isn't recommended for people who have Parkinson's disease that responds well to the drug levodopa (L-dopa). (3)
The procedure seems to help people for whom levodopa becomes less effective over time, or for people who developed disabling side effects from levodopa (like dyskinesia — involuntary twisting or writhing movements).
One area of research is exploring whether starting DBS earlier in the course of the disease — while levodopa is still working — might be helpful.
DBS isn't recommended for people with memory problems, hallucinations, severe depression, poor health, or a consistently poor response to levodopa.
DBS also hasn't been shown to benefit people with other parkinsonisms (disorders that cause Parkinson's-like symptoms).
As with any surgery, DBS surgery carries a risk of infection. Because DBS is a brain surgery, there's also a small risk of brain hemorrhage or stroke. (2)
Other Surgeries for Parkinson's
Pallidotomy and thalamotomy are surgeries that permanently destroy parts of the brain that are causing motor symptoms. (4)
These surgeries were more common before deep brain stimulation (DBS) became available.
Pallidotomy and thalamotomy have become the focus of research again because ultrasound versions of these procedures can be performed noninvasively, without the need for surgery.
Diet for Parkinson's Disease
A normal, healthy diet is beneficial for anyone, including people with Parkinson's disease. (5)
Constipation can be a problem for people with Parkinson's, so a fiber-rich diet with plenty of fluids may help.
Protein in the diet can limit the absorption of the drug levodopa, so this medication is best taken without a lot of protein.
Research is ongoing about the possible benefits of antioxidants, caffeine, and supplements in people with Parkinson's. But there's no conclusive evidence that any specific dietary factors are helpful in preventing or treating the condition.
Always tell your doctor about any supplements or herbs that you're taking, as they may interact with medications.
Physical Therapy for Parkinson's
Regular aerobic exercise and strength training can help to improve strength, flexibility, and balance — as well as fight depression — in people with Parkinson's disease. (6)
The following exercises and activities may be helpful:
This exercise has been shown to help improve mobility, flexibility, and balance in people with mild to moderate Parkinson's. (7)
A speech therapist may be able to help you overcome problems related to speaking and swallowing. (6)
An occupational therapist can help you develop techniques to aid with daily activities like dressing, eating, bathing, and writing. (6)
This practice — which involves examining posture, balance, and how you use your muscles — may help reduce muscle tension, pain, and the risk of falling.
Video: New Parkinson's Disease Treatment
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