What Is Procyclidine Used For?
Extrapyramidal symptoms (also known as EPS) are a group of side effects that are common with antipsychotic medications, as well as a few other types of medications. Extrapyramidal symptoms are usually divided into different categories. Dyskinesias are movement disorders, while dystonias are muscle tension disorders. "Tardive" symptoms are those that appear during long-term treatment (often after several years of treatment). Unlike earlier symptoms, tardive symptoms are more likely to be permanent, even after the medication is stopped.
Procyclidine can be very effective for controlling most EPS. However, procyclidine should not be used to treat tardive dyskinesia, as it is not effective for this use and may even worsen this condition.
Procyclidine is approved to treat parkinsonism, which includes Parkinson's disease and several other Parkinson's-like conditions. Specifically, it is approved to treat the following:
- Parkinson's disease
- Postencephalic parkinsonism
- Arteriosclerotic parkinsonism.
(Please see Parkinsonism for more information on these different types of parkinsonism.)
Although other types of medications (typically carbidopa-levodopa medicines) are the mainstay of Parkinson's disease treatment, procyclidine can be helpful when used in addition to (or even in place of) such medications.
How Does Procyclidine Work?Procyclidine is an anticholinergic medication. It works by blocking the effects of acetylcholine, a type of neurotransmitter (a chemical in the nervous system). Normal muscle movement control requires a careful balance of acetylcholine and dopamine (another neurotransmitter). In Parkinson's disease (and with extrapyramidal disorders caused by antipsychotic medications), dopamine levels are decreased, creating an imbalance between dopamine and acetylcholine. By blocking the effects of acetylcholine, procyclidine helps to re-establish a normal balance between dopamine and acetylcholine.