There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatments can maintain a person’s quality of life and relieve symptoms.

While experts have made significant strides in understanding and managing the disease, they have not yet found a definitive cure.

This article looks at if there is a cure for Parkinson’s disease, how doctors treat it, and how people can manage it.

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There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, which is a chronic and progressive neurological disorder primarily affecting movement.

Research into Parkinson’s disease is ongoing, with scientists exploring various potential disease-modifying therapies, genetic factors, and other avenues that could one day lead to a cure.

Additionally, advances in treatment and management continue to improve the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s disease.

There is active research in developing new medications to treat and potentially slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Multiple medications are in various stages of research development, showing that the effort to find more effective treatments is ongoing.

Research with funding from the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) focused on the role of glucocerebrosidase mutations in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Understanding how these enzyme mutations lead to the disease could pave the way for new interventions.

Additionally, a study with support from APDA at Washington University analyzed the relationship between Lewy bodies in the brains of people with Parkinson’s and dementia.

They found that neocortical Lewy bodies, which are atypical cellular deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, are present in most people who have Parkinson’s without dementia. Additionally, they discovered that not all people with Parkinson’s with dementia have these Lewy bodies.

This suggests a more complex relationship between Parkinson’s disease and cognitive decline​.

Parkinson’s treatment involves medications to manage symptoms, primarily by increasing or substituting dopamine levels in the brain. This is because the disease’s symptoms largely result from decreased dopamine.

Common medications include:

  • Levodopa: This is the most effective Parkinson’s drug, which the brain converts into dopamine.
  • Carbidopa: Doctors often give this alongside levodopa. It prevents or lessens some of the side effects of levodopa, such as nausea.
  • Dopamine agonists: These mimic dopamine effects in the brain, and doctors prescribe them alone or with levodopa.
  • Monoamine oxidase B (MAO B) inhibitors: These help prevent the breakdown of brain dopamine by inhibiting the enzyme MAO B.
  • Catechol O-methyltransferase inhibitors: These help prolong the effect of levodopa therapy by blocking an enzyme that breaks down dopamine.
  • Anticholinergics: These help control tremors and rigidity.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

In advanced Parkinson’s or when medications are not leading to adequate symptom relief or are causing intolerable side effects, DBS might be an option.

This surgical procedure implants electrodes into specific parts of the brain.

These electrodes connect to a generator implanted in the chest near the collarbone that sends electrical pulses to the brain, possibly reducing Parkinson’s symptoms.

Most people who have had DBS for Parkinson’s disease need to continue to take medication, but they might be able to take lower doses than before the procedure.

Managing Parkinson’s disease involves a comprehensive and personalized approach, as the disease affects individuals differently.

Effective management of Parkinson’s requires a multidisciplinary approach involving neurologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dietitians, and mental health professionals.

The goal is to optimize function and quality of life while minimizing the side effects of treatment.

  • Therapy: This involves physical, occupational, psychological, and speech and language therapy. Together, these work on:
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity is crucial in maintaining mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, and tai chi can be beneficial.
  • Research and clinical trials: Staying informed about the latest research and considering participation in clinical trials for new treatments.
  • Lifestyle modifications: People can make changes in their homes for safety, use assistive devices, and simplify tasks to reduce fatigue.
  • Regular monitoring and adjustments in treatment: People can attend regular check-ups with their healthcare team to monitor the progression of the disease and adjust treatments as necessary.

Read on for the answers to common questions about Parkinson’s and a cure.

What is the life expectancy of a person with Parkinson’s disease?

Studies have shown that the life expectancy of people with Parkinson’s can be slightly shorter compared to the general population.

However, many people with Parkinson’s live long lives. The gap in life expectancy between those with Parkinson’s and those without has been narrowing, thanks to better treatments and management strategies.

Why is Parkinson’s so hard to cure?

Curing Parkinson’s disease is challenging due to several complex factors relating to the nature of the disease, scientists’ current understanding of it, and the limitations of medical science.

Healthcare professionals still do not know the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease. Without knowing the precise cause, developing a targeted cure becomes more difficult.

Additionally, Parkinson’s disease presents differently in individuals, with a wide range of symptoms and progression rates. This variability makes it hard to develop universally effective treatments.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. The multifaceted nature of Parkinson’s disease, which involves genetic, cellular, and neurological factors, means that research must continue to explore various avenues for effective treatments and potential cures for the condition.