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Treatment

Medications for Motor Symptoms

Since most symptoms of PD are caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain, many Parkinson’s drugs are aimed at either temporarily replenishing dopamine or mimicing the action of dopamine. These types of drugs are called dopaminergic medications. They generally help reduce muscle rigidity, improve speed and coordination of movement and lessen tremor.

Always remember that medication is only part of the overall treatment plan for combatting PD. Learn more about the available medications on these pages, but don't forget exercise and complementary therapies.

Exercise

Exercise is an important part of healthy living for everyone. For people with Parkinson’s, exercise is more than healthy: it is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and the ability to perform activities of daily living. 

Deep Brain Stimulation

What are the facts?

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure used to treat a variety of disabling neurological symptoms—most commonly the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement, and walking problems.
  • The procedure is also used to treat essential tremor, a common neurological movement disorder.
  • DBS does not damage healthy brain tissue by destroying nerve cells. Instead the procedure blocks electrical signals from targeted areas in the brain.

Surgical Treatment Options

While surgery can be an effective treatment option for different symptoms of PD, only the symptoms that previously improved on levodopa have the potential to improve after the surgery. Surgical treatment is reserved for PD patients who have exhausted medical treatment of PD tremor or who suffer profound motor fluctuations (wearing off and dyskinesias). Learn more now about the available surgical treatment options and visit the Ask the Surgical Team forum, where Kelly D. Foote, M.D.

MAO-B Inhibitors

What Are the Facts?

  • MAO-B is an enzyme that naturally breaks down several chemicals in our brain, including dopamine.
  • MAO-B inhibitors help to block the breakdown of dopamine in the brain. This makes more dopamine available and reduces some of the motor symptoms of PD.
  • MAO-B inhibitors provide modest benefit for the motor features of PD. They are usually used early in the disease as monotherapy (meaning it is the only drug you take) or as an adjunct (add-on) to other medications.

Dopamine Agonists

What are the facts?

  • Dopamine agonists are a different class of drugs than levodopa.
  • While levodopa is converted in the brain into dopamine, dopamine agonists actually mimic the effects of dopamine without having to be converted.
  • Apart from Carbidopa-Levodopa, dopamine agonists are often the first medication prescribed to treat PD, but can also be used in later stages of PD with carbidopa/levodopa.

COMT Inhibitors

This class of PD medications includes entacapone (Comtan®) and tolcapone (Tasmar®). They have no direct effect on PD symptoms, but are used to prolong the effect of levodopa by blocking its metabolism. COMT inhibitors are used primarily to help with “wearing-off,” in which the effect of levodopa becomes short-lived. People taking Tasmar must have regular liver function blood tests. Entacapone is not only a COMT inhibitor, but is also a main ingredient in Stalevo, which is a combination of carbidopa, levodopa and entacopone.

What are the facts?

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