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Treating Parkinson's Disease

In the early 1960s, researchers identified a fundamental brain defect that is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease -- a loss of brain cells that produce a chemical (dopamine) that helps direct muscle activity. This discovery pointed to the first successful treatment for Parkinson's disease and suggested ways of devising new and even more effective therapies.
However, there is no cure for Parkinson's or treatment that has been shown to slow down or stop the disease's progression. But there is treatment for Parkinson's disease that provides dramatic relief from the symptoms.
Some of these treatments for Parkinson's disease can include:
Not everyone who is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease will immediately require medicine. Many people are only mildly affected and do not require medications for several years after the initial diagnosis.
When Parkinson's treatment does become necessary, healthcare providers often begin with one or more of the less powerful medications for Parkinson's disease. This includes such drugs as:
This allows healthcare providers to save the most powerful treatment (specifically, levodopa) for the time when people need it the most.
When Parkinson's disease symptoms grow severe, healthcare providers usually prescribe levodopa combined with carbidopa. Carbidopa-levodopa products are available as the brand-name medicines Sinemet®, Sinemet® CR, Parcopa® or as a generic. Carbidopa is used with levodopa because it delays the conversion of levodopa into dopamine until it reaches the brain. Nerve cells can use levodopa to make dopamine and replenish the brain's dwindling supply of this neurotransmitter.
There are a number of other medicines approved for treating Parkinson's disease symptoms. These can be given alone or in combination with levodopa in order to treat symptoms.
(Click Parkinson's Disease Treatment for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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