Treatments & Living Well

flowersIf you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, treatment can help you live a full, productive life.  While everyone’s experience is unique, there are common strategies you can take to live well with PD.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but it can be managed;  the symptoms of the disease can be relieved or reduced.  Treating Parkinson’s disease is often a team effort involving  a number of specialists in addition to your neurologist.

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 and tremor, and maintain mental sharpness.

Since most symptoms of PD are caused by the lack of dopamine in the brain, many Parkinson’s drugs are “dopaminergic” – aimed at either temporarily replenishing dopamine or mimic the action of dopamine.  These medications generally help reduce muscle rigidity, improve speed and coordination of movement and lessen tremor.

Most people with Parkinson’s disease can be treated using prescribed medications.  If you react adversely to medications, or if the medications become ineffective, surgery  may be advised.

NPF’s Summary of medications for motor symptoms in PD  is a comprehensive list of medications, their usage, typical regimen, and their potential side effects..

Be sure to keep track of the monthly column by NPF’s National Medical Director, Dr. Michael Okun, on the latest developments in PD research – the “What’s Hot in PD?” blog.  The article archive is listed below the current article.

Complementary or alternative therapy may also be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Persons with PD who are seeking relief from their symptoms may decide to explore these therapies, which can support or complement Western or traditional medicine.  There are many modalities of complementary medicine such as herbs, vitamins and supplements. Keep in mind that most herbs and supplements have not been rigorously studied as safe and effective treatments for Parkinson’s disease.  The FDA does not strictly regulate or monitor herbs and supplements.

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

Living Well with PD

Medication usage should only be part of the treatment plan for treating PD. You will get more out of your life if you confront the disease with creative adjustments and a commitment to improving your physical, mental and spiritual wellness.

Exercise

Exercise does make a difference. A number of studies show the benefits of a well rounded exercise program, which includes stretching, strengthening and aerobics.

People with PD benefit from exercise in the same ways as everyone else, with improved health, sleep and overall overlook.  Research suggests exercise may have a special role in PD by increasing dopamine in the brain.

Changing Your Diet

Eating a well balanced diet, drinking lots of water and controlling your weight are even more important if you have PD.  A good source of information about this is the NPF booklet, Parkinson’s Disease: Nutrition Matters. You will want to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fluids to combat constipation.  Talk to your doctor about managing your intake of protein and iron.

Education

You and your family should learn as possible about PD. This will help you cope with the disease and get the best healthcare.