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How is Parkinson's treated?

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Instead, therapy is directed at treating the symptoms that are most bothersome to each individual.

For this reason, there is not a standard or “best” treatment for Parkinson’s that applies to every patient, which makes it a hard disease to regulate. The National Parkinson Foundation is currently gathering data to develop an individualized best approach to patient care.  Treatment approaches include medication, surgery, lifestyle modifications (rest and exercise), physical therapy, support groups, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Recent studies have found that a treatment is better than no treatment. In other words, medications and therapies may modify the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

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

SURGERY: Medication usage is only part of the whole treatment plan for effectively treating PD. Surgery also can be an effective treatment option for different symptoms of PD, but only the symptoms that previously improved on levodopa have the potential to improve after surgery. Surgical treatment is reserved for PD patients who have exhausted medical treatment for PD tremor or who suffer profound motor fluctuations (wearing off and dyskinesia).

EXERCISE: For people with PD, exercise is not only healthy but is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility, and daily living activities. In fact, exercise can actually help slow the progression of PD. Learn more about the neuroprotective benefits of exercise as well as what types of exercise are the most beneficial for people with PD.