Parkinson's disease

Updated 17 March 2016

Treating Parkinson’s disease

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A variety of medications provide dramatic relief from the symptoms, but no drug can stop the progression of the disease.

In some cases, surgery is an appropriate treatment. Some doctors recommend physical therapy or muscle-strengthening exercises.

The mainstay of treatment in Parkinson's consists of dopamine replacement therapy. Many similar treatments aim to maintain a constant level of dopamine within the brain. At the present time, there is no hard evidence for any medicine being effective for preventing the progression of Parkinson's disease.

Although many neurologists choose to start treatment with medicines termed dopamine agonists that act similarly to dopamine, patients should be aware that in general, these medicines are somewhat less effective and may have a wider range of side-effects as compared to dopamine.

However, use of dopamine for prolonged periods of time may result in excessive movements which are called dyskinesias. For many patients who are troubled by these side effects of dopamine, surgical therapy (deep brain stimulation= DBS) may be of significant benefit. 

Read more: 

What is Parkinson's disease?

Causes of Parkinson's disease 

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Revised and reviewed by Prof Carr February 2015. Reviewed by Dr Andrew Rose-Innes, MD, Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven.