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Machado-Joseph Disease

Treatment Options

Machado-Joseph disease is incurable, but some of its symptoms can be treated. Treatment can include the following:
  • Levodopa therapy can help for many years for those patients who show Parkinson's features.
  • Antispasmodic drugs, such as baclofen, can help reduce spasticity.
  • Botulinum toxin can treat severe spasticity as well as some symptoms of dystonia. However, botulinum toxin should be used as a last resort due to the possibility of side effects such as swallowing problems (dysphagia).
  • Medication and speech therapy can be used to treat patients with speech problems (dysarthria) and dysphagia.
  • Wearing prism glasses can reduce blurred or double vision, but eye surgery has only short-term benefits due to the progressive degeneration of eye muscles.
  • Physiotherapy can help patients cope with disability associated with gait problems, and physical aids, such as walkers and wheelchairs, can assist the patient with everyday activities.
  • Medications and medical care can be used to treat other Machado-Joseph disease problems such as sleep disturbances, cramps, and urinary dysfunction.

Prognosis for Machado-Joseph Disease

Machado-Joseph disease is also a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms will get worse with time. Life expectancy ranges from the mid-thirties for those with severe forms of the disease to a normal life expectancy for those with mild forms of the disease. An early death from Machado-Joseph disease is usually caused by aspiration pneumonia.
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