Understanding Parkinson's Disease

Classified as a neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson's disease mainly affects movement and other sensory and motor skills. The disorder typically starts slowly and progresses over time, and it cannot be cured. Fortunately, Dr. Peter Nakaji is an elite brain surgeon who can assess the severity of your condition and prescribe effective Parksinson's disease treatment at his Phoenix, AZ, office to help manage and improve symptoms.

What Is Parkinson's Disease?

Man with folded hands on a caneParkinson's disease is considered a neurodegenerative condition that affects the motor system. It usually occurs in individuals over the age of 60, and most commonly is seen in men. It can also have negative effects on speech, mood, sleep, and behavior. It is most commonly caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Patients who have a family member with Parkinson's are more likely to develop the disorder. Additionally, those who have sustained multiple prior head injuries are at a higher risk for Parkinson's. 

Surgery is typically not considered in the management of Parkinson's disease unless all other medications have failed and all treatment options have been exhausted.

In the early stages, motor symptoms are usually present in the form of shaking, rigidity, trouble walking, and slowness of movement. Symptoms can also include neuropsychiatric problems with thinking and behavior. Those who have Parkinson's disease commonly also have depression and anxiety, and have an increased risk of developing dementia as the disease advances. Symptoms affecting motor skills are caused by dying cells in the midbrain region (specifically cells in the substantia nigra), which results in a lack of dopamine released to these parts of the brain.

Managing Parkinson's Disease

Depending on which stage of Parkinson's disease you are in, Dr. Nakaji will carefully assess your condition and implement one of a wide range of treatments.

  • Levodopa is the most commonly used drug to treat patients with early stage Parkinson's. Also called L-DOPA, this drug is transformed into dopamine and temporarily causes motor symptoms to subside.
  • Dopamine agonists are either used in conjunction with L-DOPA to balance its side effects (nausea, dyskinesias, and stiffness), or as an initial treatment to manage or delay the onset of motor symptoms.
  • MAO-B inhibitors block the metabolization of monoamine oxidase-B, which diminishes the dopamine produced by neurons in the brain. By inhibiting MAO-B, the brain receives more of the dopamine that L-DOPA produces, which can reduce motor symptoms.

Surgical Approaches

Surgery is typically not considered in the management of Parkinson's disease unless medications have failed and all treatment options have been exhausted. However, Dr. Nakaji is a world-renowned surgeon who can perform the following procedures.

  • Neuroablative lesion surgery intends to use heat to destroy parts of the brain that are responsible for producing neurological symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and akinesia. The surgery will either include a thalamotomy or pallidotomy. Thalamotomy removes part of the thalamus to suppress tremor symptoms. For patients with rigidity and akinesia, Dr. Nakaji will perform a pallidotomy, which removes part of globus pallidus.
  • Deep brain stimulation is the most common form of surgical treatment for Parkinson's today because it does not involve the irreversible destruction of brain tissue. Instead, a three-component system is implanted into the brain and body to provide controlled electrical pulses to areas of the brain that currently receive abnormal nerve impulses that cause tremor and other symptoms.

Choose an Expert

Dr. Nakaji is internationally recognized as a leader in brain surgery and neurology, and he wants to help you or your loved one achieve a better quality of life. While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, Dr. Nakaji can prescribe medicine or perform surgery that can dramatically diminish your symptoms. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

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