Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which affects nerve cells in the brain which produce the feel-good hormone dopamine. The symptoms include muscle rigidity and tremors as well as noticeable differences to the speech and gait. After diagnosis, treatments can help relieve the symptoms, but as of now there is no cure to the disease. However, there are several treatments which have proven more or less effective at slowing down the disease or even effectively helping people live normal lives in spite of the tremors.
Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease
Medication can ensure that you live a healthy and normal life, and reduce problems with general movement. These medications can either substitute or increase the level of the hormone. Patients of Parkinson’s have very low concentrations of dopamine in the brain, but since it’s not possible to administer dopamine directly in to the brain, there is no cure.
In addition to that, the effects of any medication you take can diminish over time, so there is no way to permanently hold the severity level of the disease in one place. However, these medications still hold a lot of relief for people suffering from the disease.
The effectiveness of levodopa for Parkinson’s is second to none. This natural chemical makes its way into the brain and converts into dopamine.
It’s combined with carbidopa (Lodosyn) which ensures that the chemical does not convert into dopamine before it reaches the brain so that the chemical can get to where it’s going before it’s broken down. This reduces side effects like nausea – if not preventing them altogether.
Duopa is an interesting and highly effective medication that is made of levodopa and carbidopa . A feeding tube is used to administer the medication into the small intestine. The medication is in the form of a gel.
Duopa is an advanced version of the Carbidopa-levodopa medication for patients that are still responding to the medication, but are experiencing less consistency in its effects. Duopa makes sure that the medication levels in the blood remain constant.
These differ from levodopa in that they can’t change in to dopamine when they enter the brain. They do the next best thing; mimicking dopamine’s effects in the brain. While their effectiveness does not match that of levodopa, they can be used instead of it or alongside it to curb the effects.
Dopamine agonists can include ropinirole (Requip), pramipexole (Mirapex), as well as rotigotine (Neupro). Apokyn is an injectable dopamine agonist which is short acting, but can be administered for quick relief.
MAO B inhibitors
This class of compounds includes safinamide (Xadago), rasagiline (Azilect) and selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar). These are inhibitor compounds which restrain the breakdown of dopamine in the brain by the enzyme monoamine oxidase B (MAO B). Side effects of the medication can include nausea and insomnia.
When taken alongside carbidopa-levodopa, these compounds can make patients hallucinate. Hence, these medications aren’t often used simultaneously with narcotics and antidepressants since they can lead to very rare and dangerous reactions.
Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors
Entacapone (Comtan) is one of the chief medications from this class of compounds. Another inhibitor compound, it blocks an enzyme that breaks down dopamine to prolong the effects of levodopa. However, the prolonging is mild.
Administering this medication can lead to increased involuntary movements which mainly results from enhanced levodopa effects like diarrhea.
Tolcapone or Tasmar is a COMT inhibitor which is not nearly as well prescribed by doctors as Comtan since it has a high risk of severe liver damage and even failure.
These medications were used many years ago to help control the tremors associated with Parkinson’s. Many anticholinergic medications are currently in use including benztropine (Cogentin).
This drug isn’t prescribed very often due to the various side effects like dry mouth, hallucinations, confusion, memory loss, constipation, and impaired urination, weighing down its more positive effects.
For early stages of Parkinson’s and very mild effects of the disease, Amantadine is described. It may also be given with carbidopa-levodopa therapy. This is done during the later stages of the disease to better control involuntary movements.
Side effects of the Amantadine treatment can include hallucinations and ankle swelling. In some cases, purple colored blotches might also appear on the skin.
One treatment which is proving very popular for Parkinson’s and also extremely effective, is the Nordic Walking method. The benefits are hard to pin down visually what exactly about this technique can be helpful to Parkinson’s patients, but the very act of walking and active participation of the upper body can have the kind of benefits which are matched by very few other exercises.
The Walking practice can give better balance to the body, a better heart rate, better vascular health and better oxygen intake. It also has benefits for the hip, the knee, and ankle joints, and can also contribute to higher bone density. This among other things is why nordic walking help parkinson patients.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is so named because surgeons insert electrodes in the brain. This helps manipulate the brain’s synapses and activity to offset the effects of Parkinson’s. A generator inserted near the collarbone in the chest is connected to them. It sends electrical singles to the brain and can reduce the symptoms.
Your doctors can adjust the settings depending on the severity of your tremors and as he/she sees fit for your condition. This is a much more risky procedure than medication. Complications during surgery can result in infections, stroke and brain hemorrhages. Some people have experienced problems with the surgery due to the stimulation.
However, it should be noted that the procedure is only fit for people that have advanced Parkinson’s disease and those that have unstable responses to medication. The procedure can stabilize medication fluctuations and reduce as well as put a stop to involuntary movements and reduce the tremors in the body.
The procedure isn’t useful for problems which don’t respond to medication (levodopa therapy) besides tremors. A tremor can be controlled by the procedure even if it’s not very responsive to levodopa. DBS can help with sustained Parkinson’s symptoms but it doesn’t help with stopping the disease from progressing further.