How Parkinson's Disease Symptoms Respond to Treatment
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but treatments can help ease your symptoms.
Tracking your response to treatment is another way doctors can determine how advanced your condition is. The stages of Parkinson's treatment generally progress in the following order:
1.No medication needed. In its early stages, Parkinson's disease symptoms may be very mild and may not need to be treated.
2.Good response to medication. As your symptoms begin affecting your functioning, the Parkinson's medication Sinemet or Parcopa [carbidopa and levodopa]) is usually able to significantly and effectively reduce symptoms for one to five years - longer in about 25 percent of patients.
3.Waning medication response. When the effectiveness of Sinemet or Parcopa begins to wear off (its effects will last for increasingly shorter periods of time as the disease progresses), you will need to increase the amount of medication, or add another medication called a COMT inhibitor [Comtan (entacapone); Tasmar (tolcapone)] that essentially boosts the efficacy of the carbidopa/levodopa combo.
4.Unpredictable medication response. Instead of occurring at predictable intervals, breakthrough symptoms begin occurring at random, and may be triggered by stress and anxiety. At this point, medications will need to be continuously monitored, and Parkinson's surgery may become a treatment option.
5.Dyskinesias. Dyskinesias are involuntary movements that tend to occur when your medication dose has reached its peak performance. When this happens, adjusting your medication dosing, taking a medication called Symmetrel (amantadine), and perhaps surgery may also help.
6.Severely unpredictable symptoms. In the most advanced stages of Parkinson's disease's, severe symptom flare-ups alternating with severe dyskinesias will occur, despite medication adjustments. At this point, surgery is often the best treatment option. Called deep brain stimulation, this surgery involves implanting electrodes in the brain that are connected to an external device somewhat like a heart pacemaker that helps control electrical impulses affecting movement and flexibility.