Essential tremor

Alternative Names

Tremor – essential; Familial tremor; Tremor – familial

Definition of Essential tremor

Essential tremor is a type of involuntary shaking movement in which no cause can be identified. Involuntary means you shake without trying to do so.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Essential tremor is the most common type of tremor. In general, tremors occur when there is a problem with the nerves supplying certain muscles. However, everyone has some essential tremor but the movements are usually so small that they can’t be seen.

Symptoms

The tremor is usually most obvious in the hands, but may affect the arms, head, eyelids, or other muscles. The tremor rarely affects the legs or feet. People with essential tremor may have trouble holding or using small objects such as silverware or a pen.

Signs and tests

Your doctor can make the diagnosis by performing a physical exam and asking questions about your medical and personal history.

Treatment

Treatment may not be necessary unless the tremors interfere with your daily activities or cause embarrassment.

Expectations (prognosis)

An essential tremor is not a dangerous condition, but some patients find the tremors annoying and embarrassing. In some cases, it may be dramatic enough to interfere with work, eating, or drinking.

Review

Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/24/2009

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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