Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes the hands, head, trunk, voice or legs to shake rhythmically. It is often confused with Parkinson’s disease. Essential tremor is the most common trembling disorder people experience.
Who is affected by essential tremor?
Essential tremor is most common among people older than 60, but it can affect people at any age. Although the cause is unknown, one theory is that the cerebellum and other parts of the brain are not communicating correctly. The cerebellum is a part of the brain that controls muscle coordination.
In most people, the condition seems to be passed down from parent to child. Other neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease or dystonia may also cause tremor. Since essential tremor may be mistaken for these other diseases, careful diagnosis by a neurologist is important.
Other causes of tremor
Tremors also can be caused by caffeine and medical conditions or medications that affect the nervous system, such as liver failure and other medical illnesses.
Treatment and next steps
Depending on the cause of essential tremor, your treatment can vary. For some people, avoiding potential contributors, such as caffeine, nicotine and/or alcohol, can help. Stress also can play a role, so stress relaxation techniques may help.
If your quality of life is negatively affected by essential tremor, speak with your LVHN primary care provider or neurology provider for guidance. Treatment options for essential tremor can include medications. For essential tremor in the hands, botulinum toxin injections have shown some promise. For severe tremors, surgical options including deep brain stimulation, may help.