Medications and surgical treatments may control movement symptoms of Parkinson's. Exercise, stretches, and balance work also help.
Treatment typically starts with medication. Medications help reduce movement symptoms by increasing dopamine in the brain or mimicking its effects. Work with your doctor to find the medication, or combination, which gives you the most benefit with the fewest side effects.
Types of medications include:
Levodopa is a common medication. After some years, many people find that levodopa becomes less effective at controlling their symptoms. Signs to watch for include:
Other treatments for Parkinson's require a surgical procedure.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS)—DBS uses a small, pacemaker-like device, placed under the skin of the chest, to send electrical signals through very thin wires to an area in the brain that controls movement. These signals block some of the brain messages that cause the movement symptoms of Parkinson's. DBS is delivered 24 hours a day and requires no daily cleaning or refilling. This therapy is not for everyone. Talk with your doctor to see if it may be right for you. When to talk with your doctor about DBS
Levodopa-carbidopa intestinal pump — This treatment for people with advanced Parkinson’s disease uses a tube implanted in your small intestine and a drug pump worn on a belt around the waist. The pump delivers a levodopa/carbidopa gel through the tube. Because the medication does not need to pass through the stomach, the body absorbs it more quickly than a pill. The pump requires daily maintenance, like refilling the medication and keeping the skin around the tube clean to prevent infection. It is important to watch for signs that the intestinal tube is not clogged, bent, or out of position.
Pallidotomy and thalamotomy — A surgeon destroys a specific, small area of the brain to help control movement symptoms. These procedures aren't performed very often today, but may be recommended in certain cases.
Since Parkinson's is a progressive disease, the treatment that works for you now may not work later. Talk with your doctor about your current symptoms, what daily activities are important for you to maintain, and what treatments to consider as your disease progresses.