What is it?

Essential tremor (also called familial tremor, benign tremor) is a neurological disorder, which belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. Essential tremor causes involuntary rhythmic shaking that usually appears in the hands, but can affect other areas of the body. Primary tremor is a benign and not dangerous condition, but it can worsen over time and cause significant discomfort to the patient. Despite some resemblance, initial tremor has nothing to do with Parkinson’s. In about half of the cases there is a family history of essential tremor.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Idiopathic Tremor
- Benign Tremor
- Familial Tremor

Signs & symptoms

Essential tremor appears gradually, usually in the hands, with one side more dominant than the other. The tremor worsens during movement, for example when holding a cup or trying to tie shoelaces, and may also worsen in situations of stress, fatigue, temperature changes or caffeine consumption. The tremor can also affect the position of the head (nodding appearance) and the tongue or vocal cords (vocal tremor).

Diagnosis

When diagnosing essential tremor, the doctor will ask about personal and family medical history and will perform a physical and neurological examination. Since there are no tests that confirm a diagnosis of essential tremor, diagnosis is made by negation (for this purpose, additional tests may be performed).

Treatment

It is not necessary to treat an essential tremor, and the decision to treat depends on the patient’s preferences. Treatment options include:
- Reduction in caffeine intake, stop taking medications that may cause tremor.
- Medications (eg beta blockers, anticonvulsants).
- Botox injections - Botox temporarily weakens the trembling muscles.
- Surgery - will be performed only in cases of severe tremor. The possibilities are Thalamotomy surgery (surgery in which an area of the brain called the thalamus, creating the tremor, is damaged); Or deep brain stimulation surgery (surgery in which an electrode is implanted in the brain whose function is to provide electrical stimuli that help control tremor).

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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