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Michael J Fox and Muhammad Ali, have raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease.

Michael J Fox and Muhammad Ali, have raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease.
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Parkinson’s disease treatments

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease at present, medication and surgery can help ease the symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease medicines

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by lower than normal levels of dopamine, which is a chemical found in the brain.

The medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease are designed to increase the level of dopamine in the brain.

There are many different types of these medicines and different names and brand names. The most commonly used are:

  • levodopa, which replaces dopamine
  • dopamine agonists, which copy the function of dopamine
  • COMT inhibitors, which boost the response of levodopa
  • MAO-B inhibitors, which help stop the breakdown of dopamine in the brain
  • anticholinergics to help with the tremor.
  • amantadine, which is used for people who may have developed abnormal movements (known as dyskinesia) following long-term use of levodopa

Different people respond to different medicines in different ways. So, if you are being prescribed medication for Parkinson's disease, it may take some time to find the one that suits you best.

Surgery

Some people find surgery helps, and brain surgery can be used to reduce the tremor, or lessen wriggling movements in your body.

More recently, deep brain stimulation surgery has been used. This involves implanting electrodes into the part of your brain that controls motor function. The electrodes are connected to a tiny generator, implanted in your chest, that you can switch on to send electrical impulses to your brain.

If you are interested in surgery, please discuss it with your doctor to see whether or not it’s suitable for you.

Lifestyle changes, such as increasing the amount of exercise you do, can also help. You might also be referred to a physiotherapist or speech therapist who may be able to help you manage your symptoms.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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