Home > Conditions Treated > Movement Disorders > Essential Tremor

Essential tremor is a common movement disorder. This can affect the legs, vocal cords, hands or arms. It can be quite debilitating especially when it affects the patient’s dominant hand. It can affect the patient’s normal functioning and quality of life. 

Essential Tremor is a neurological disorder in which there is involuntary shaking of different parts of the body. Generally, the hand is affected by essential tremors. This disturbs normal activities like eating food, drinking water, playing and tying laces. It can also affect other body parts including the face, tongue, neck, head. 

This is not a life-taking condition but it can become severe in some people. Essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease are sometimes confused with each other. Essential tremor can occur in all ages of people. However, it is more common in people above 40 years of age.

Is this a sign of Parkinson’s Disease?

This type of tremor is different from the tremors seen with Parkinson’s disease.  Parkinson’s disease tremors are described as a resting or pill rolling type of tremor.

What are the symptoms of essential tremors?   

There is a constant movement and shakiness in the body part, which is affected by essential tremor. The effect of essential tremors on both sides of the body might not be equal. 

Essential tremors are of two types:

Action tremor

Patients experience their tremor when they are doing some activity such as tying a shoelace, drinking water.

Tremor at rest

Patients experience their tremor when they are not doing anything. 

Some other symptoms of essential tremor on different body parts, are the following:

  • A tremor in the head and neck can make a patient move in different directions.
  • When a person tries to do an activity with his hand, he or she might notice the shakiness
  • A sudden movement in part of the face such as eyelids
  • A tremor in the voice box and tongue and making a shaky sound while speaking.
  • A tremor in the leg can cause a problem with the balance

Causes of Essential Tremors

The underlying cause of essential tremors is unknown. However, there is a subset of patients in whom this can be caused due to genetics. Tremors can also be caused by things like having a stroke, alcohol abuse, or thyroid issues for example. 

Risk factors 

Risk factor for essential tremor include:

Age: Essential tremors can happen in a person of any age, but it is more common in people with age 40 or above.

Genetic mutation: Essential tremor can be hereditary. If one of the parents has the disease, then there is a fifty percent chance of the child having it as well.

Diagnosis of Essential Tremor

As per symptoms, doctor will analyse the condition and confirm the diagnosis. No specific tests such as a blood test or a urine test will be used for diagnosis. However, a doctor will analyse the medical history of the patient and will consider other causes of tremor. These could be too much caffeine, thyroid disease or medication side effects.

Treatment of Essential Tremor

Essential tremors may be reasonably controlled with medications including beta-blockers. Although there are other treatment options also. Avoiding factors that aggravate the condition, is another method of treatment. 

Deep brain stimulation offers effective control of these tremors. The target for deep brain stimulation for tremors is in the thalamus. We use stereotactic localisation techniques to accurately place the electrodes into the thalamus. During, surgery we record nerve cell activity and the response to stimulation. This helps to maximise the benefits of the surgery while reducing the possibility of side effects.