Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Treatments for Parkinson's disease: Surgery, medication and deep brain stimulation

Parkinson's disease cannot be cured, but many of its symptoms can be relieved or managed.

In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, no treatment may be needed, but needs may change as the condition progresses.

The goal of treatment is to help a person cope with everyday life and maintain their quality of life.

The main treatments for Parkinson's are medications, but surgery and other approaches may be recommended.

Parkinson's disease health care team

Treating Parkinson's disease is often a team effort, involving not only your neurologist, but also a wide variety of specialists. A Parkinson's disease health care team may include:

  • Neurologists
  • Specialist nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Counsellors
  • Social workers
  • Speech therapists
  • Dietitians

The goals of treatment vary for each person, but in most cases, treatment for Parkinson's disease is designed to:

  • Maintain overall quality of life
  • Improve mobility and function
  • Reduce rigidity
  • Reduce tremor
  • Reverse slowed movements
  • Improve posture, gait, balance, speech, and writing skills
  • Maintain mental sharpness

Prescription drugs to treat Parkinson's

Most people with Parkinson's disease can have symptoms treated using prescribed medication.

Because Parkinson's symptoms often occur due to low levels of a chemical messenger in the brain, called dopamine, medicines are used to help increase dopamine levels.

  • Levodopa
  • Dopamine agonists
  • Apomorphine
  • Glutamate antagonist
  • Anticholinergics
  • COMT inhibitors
  • MAO-B inhibitors

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about anything you don't understand about your medicines, what they do and any side effects or interactions with other medication.

Alternative treatments

Some studies have suggested vitamin E-rich foods may be beneficial for people with Parkinson's, or multivitamins containing vitamin E, rather than individual vitamin E supplements, if it is lacking in a person's diet. Don’t try any supplement or 'natural' approach without seeking medical advice first.

Relaxation and guided imagery have also been suggested to help with stress, depression and anxiety. Medical studies have shown that relaxation and guided imagery may help slow the progression of symptoms as well as quicken healing time after surgery or injuries.

Surgical treatments for Parkinson's disease

The main types of surgery the NHS offers for Parkinson's disease are deep brain stimulation and lesioning techniques pallidotomy and thalamotomy.

There are other procedures being researched. One involves the transplantation of foetal dopamine neurons (tissue transplant) into the brains of people with Parkinson's disease. The hope is that these cells will be able to re-grow the damaged dopamine-producing nerve cells.

Another uses an infusion of chemicals called growth factors into the basal ganglia of the brain.

Gamma knife surgery uses radiotherapy techniques through the skull.

What is pallidotomy?

It is thought that the part of the brain called the globus pallidus becomes overactive in Parkinson's disease. This overactivity acts like a brake and slows or diminishes bodily movement. Pallidotomy surgery permanently destroys the overactive globus pallidus to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. This treatment can eliminate rigidity and significantly reduce tremor, bradykinesia, and balance problems. Pallidotomy can also enhance medication treatment in people with an advanced form of Parkinson's disease.

WebMD Medical Reference

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

man holding back
Myths & facts about back pain
hands grabbing knee
How to keep your joints healthy
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
cute baby
Simple tips to keep baby's skin healthy
cute dog
10 common allergy triggers
Do you know what causes hair loss?
woman exercising
Exercises for low back pain
sperm and egg
Facts to help you get pregnant
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
rash on skin
Soothe skin and prevent flare-ups
mother and child
Could your baby be allergic to milk?
pregnant woman eating healthy salad
Nutrition needs before pregnancy