Can Brain Surgery Help Parkinson’s

Deep brain stimulation surgery isn’t new. This novel approach to treat Parkinson’s disease tremors first gained approval in 1997 and became a treatment for advanced-stage symptoms in 2002. By 2016, deep brain stimulation surgery received approval for use in earlier stages of the disease as well, but it’s not right for everyone.

As a neurologist, Joseph Watson, MD, treats a wide range of brain conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, at Cerebrum MD in Tyson’s Corner, Vienna, Virginia. Here’s what you need to know about deep brain stimulation surgery and Parkinson’s.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Approximately 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease. This neurodegenerative disorder affects more people than Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis combined.

When you have Parkinson’s disease, neurons in your brain begin to deteriorate or die. These important nerve cells create dopamine, a type of chemical messenger in your brain. As your dopamine levels drop, your brain activity changes, which triggers the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Common signs of Parkinson’s include:

Parkinson’s can also cause a decrease in unconscious movements, such as smiling, blinking, or arm swinging while walking.

What is deep brain stimulation surgery?

Deep brain stimulation surgery involves implanting thin wires with electrodes on the ends into specific areas of your brain. Once in place, they produce mild electrical impulses that regulate abnormal brain activity — a process known as neurostimulation. Dr. Watson can adjust these electrical pulses based on your condition and symptoms to achieve the best results.

To perform the surgery, the thin wires with the electrodes on the ends are inserted into different areas of the brain through tiny incisions in the skull. The internal pulse generator — which provides the electrical current — is implanted in the upper chest or abdomen. A single wire then connects the pulse generator to the wires with the electrodes on the end. This single wire is hidden underneath the skin of your head, neck, and shoulder. 

After undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery, you’ll also receive a remote control, so you’ll be able to turn the device on or off. Deep brain stimulation surgery may provide significant relief from certain neurological symptoms. However, you should consider it an interventional therapy, not a cure.

What are the benefits of deep brain stimulation surgery?

At the moment, levodopa is the most effective medication available for Parkinson’s symptoms. This natural chemical gets converted into dopamine inside your brain, making it highly effective for relieving Parkinson’s symptoms. 

If you’ve had Parkinson’s for at least four years and levodopa no longer manages your symptoms — or you have unstable responses to your medication — deep brain stimulation surgery could be an option.

Deep brain stimulation surgery often helps with:

In most cases, deep brain stimulation surgery doesn’t help with symptoms that don’t respond to levodopa. It also doesn’t usually help with problems like impaired swallowing, speaking, or thinking.

Research shows that the benefits of deep brain stimulation surgery can last at least five years, and it can even reduce your medication usage. But deep brain stimulation surgery doesn’t cure or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Are you ready to see if brain surgery can help relieve your Parkinson’s symptoms? To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Cerebrum MD today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Getting to Know Your Central Nervous System

Most people are familiar with the brain and spine. But, did you know they make up your central nervous system? Keep reading to learn how they work together to process information and coordinate responses.

Do Aneurysms Show Warning Signs?

A brain aneurysm that bursts or leaks can cause serious and life-threatening complications. But how can you recognize the signs of a problem before a crisis arises? Keep reading to learn more.

Recognizing Symptoms of a Spinal Tumor

Are you troubled by severe neck or back pain? Finding the precise cause of your symptoms can be tricky, especially if they’re due to a spinal tumor. Keep reading to learn more about this rare condition.

The Most Common Type of Brain Tumor

No one wants to hear the words “brain tumor.” However, they’re incredibly rare, often benign, and may not even require surgery. Here’s what you need to know about the most common brain tumors.

Recovering From Pituitary Surgery

Facing brain surgery can be scary, but advanced surgical techniques can make your recovery a little easier. If you need pituitary surgery, here’s what you can expect.