Tremor is an involuntary shaking movement that is
repeated over and over. Although it may affect any part of the body, tremor
most often affects the hands and head. Your voice may also shake. Sometimes
the feet or torso may also shake.
Essential tremor, which
sometimes runs in families, is one of the most common types of tremor. It is
shaking that is most noticeable when you are doing something like lifting a cup
or pointing at an object. The shaking does not occur when you are not moving.
Medicine can help reduce the shaking. Brain surgery can be helpful in some
Tremors can also be caused by conditions or medicines
that affect the nervous system, including
Parkinson's disease, liver failure, alcoholism,
mercury or arsenic poisoning, lithium, and certain antidepressants. Side
effects from other medicines can also cause tremors.
notice a tremor, observe it carefully and note what seems to make it better or
worse before calling your doctor. There are some differences between essential tremor and tremor caused by Parkinson's disease. If a cause is discovered, the
disease will be treated rather than the tremor.
Call your doctor if:
Some tremors can be treated with medicine or surgery.
Essential tremor that doesn't get better with medicine may be treated with surgery, such as:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is the leading
U.S. federal government agency supporting research on brain and nervous system
disorders. It provides the public with educational materials and information
about these disorders.
The website FamilyDoctor.org is sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It offers information on adult and child health conditions and healthy living. There are topics on medicines, doctor visits, physical and mental health issues, parenting, and more.
WE MOVE is an Internet resource for movement disorder
information. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to educating people about the latest
treatment options for neurologic movement disorders. WE MOVE also has
information on support groups and hosts discussions and chat rooms on the website.
Other Works Consulted
Ropper AH, Samuels MA (2009). Tremor, myoclonus, focal dystonias, and tics. In Adams and Victor's Principles of Neurology, 9th ed., pp. 89–110. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Zesiewicz TA, et al. (2011). Evidence-based guideline update: Treatment of essential tremor. Neurology 77(19): 1752–1755.
December 5, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& G. Frederick Wooten, MD - Neurology
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