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Neurology One

Essential Tremor

Essential tremor is a neurological disorder. It is characterized by involuntary and rhythmic shaking (tremor) of one or more parts of the body. The condition is the most common movement disorder. It affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, essential tremor can be a challenging and disabling condition. It affects the quality of life and the ability to perform daily activities.

A specialized treatment program is available at Neurology One for those with Essential tremors. Our team have been caring for people with tremors for over 20 years, and understand how they can impact daily life, work and even relationship with others.  Our team is considered among the best neurologists in Orlando, collaborating with nurses, physical therapists, and rehabilitation experts to control and treat the condition effectively.

Symptoms of Essential Tremor

The primary symptom of essential tremor is shaking (tremor). It affects one or more parts of the body. The tremor may occur in the hands, arms, head, face, voice, or legs. The tremors may be mild or severe. This may interfere with daily activities such as eating, drinking, writing, or speaking.

In addition to tremors, people with essential tremors may also experience other symptoms, such as:

Cause

Essential Tremor (ET) is the most prevalent type of tremor and affects both males and females, particularly those over 65 years of age. Although everyone experiences tremors at some point, ET causes noticeable shaking movements. 

The exact cause of ET is unknown, but research suggests that it is related to the incorrect function of the brain’s muscle control center.

If multiple family members experience ET, it is referred to as Familial Tremor and is believed to be hereditary, meaning it is passed down through generations. This type of ET is dominated by genes and only requires inheritance from one parent. Familial tremor can manifest at any age, including early middle age, old age, young age, or even childhood.

Risk Factors of Essential Tremors

While the exact cause of essential tremor is unknown, several factors have been identified as increasing the risk of developing the condition:

1. Age:

Essential tremor typically begins in middle age and becomes more pronounced with increasing age. The risk of developing essential tremors increases as people get older.

2. Genetics:

Essential tremor tends to run in families and is often inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. This means that if one parent has the condition, each of their children has a 50% chance of inheriting it.

3. Environmental factors:

Stress, fatigue, and caffeine intake have been linked to the development and worsening of essential tremor symptoms.

4. Underlying health conditions:

Certain underlying health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, can increase the risk of developing essential tremors.

5. Head injury:

Previous head injury has been linked to the development of essential tremors.

It is important to note that not all individuals with these risk factors will develop essential tremors, and not everyone with essential tremors will have these risk factors. The best way to determine if you are at risk for essential tremors is to speak with a neurologist who can evaluate your individual situation.

Diagnosis of Essential Tremor

Diagnosing essential tremors is a multi-step process that involves a physical examination, medical history review, and other diagnostic tests. The physician may ask the patient about their symptoms, family history, and any environmental factors that may trigger or worsen their tremors.

Physical examination:

The physician will examine the patient’s movements, looking for tremors in different parts of the body. They may also perform a neurological exam to check for other symptoms, such as muscle weakness or changes in coordination.

Medical history review:

The physician may ask the patient about their medical history, including any medications they are taking and any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to their tremors.

Diagnostic tests:

The physician may order additional tests such as an electromyogram (EMG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan to rule out other conditions that may be causing the tremors.

Treatment of Essential Tremor

Treatment for essential tremors is tailored to the individual and the severity of their symptoms. In some cases, lifestyle changes and stress management techniques may be enough to control the tremors. In more severe cases, medication or surgical options may be necessary. Several medications can be used to treat essential tremors. These drugs work by reducing the activity in the part of the brain responsible for controlling movement. The choice of medication depends on the severity of the tremor and the individual’s response to treatment.

Lifestyle changes:

Making simple lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine intake, avoiding alcohol, and managing stress can help control essential tremor symptoms.

Medications:

Several medications can be used to treat essential tremors. These drugs work by reducing the activity in the part of the brain responsible for controlling movement. The choice of medication depends on the severity of the tremor and the individual's response to treatment.

Surgery:

In severe cases, surgery may be recommended as a treatment option. The most common surgical procedure used to treat essential tremors is deep brain stimulation (DBS), which involves the implantation of electrodes into the brain that is connected to a battery-operated device. The device stimulates the brain to reduce tremors.

Physical therapy:

Physical therapy can also help people with essential tremors improve their ability to perform daily activities and maintain independence. Physical therapists may recommend exercises and movements that can help improve coordination, balance, and dexterity.

The treatment plan for essential tremors is individualized and may change over time based on the patient’s response to treatment and the progression of their symptoms. It is important for individuals with essential tremors to work closely with their neurologist to find the most effective treatment plan for their specific needs.

Home Care for Essential Tremors

Here are some home care tips for managing Essential Tremor (ET):

1. Avoid triggers:

Identify and avoid things that trigger or worsen your tremors, such as stress, caffeine, and alcohol.

2. Exercise regularly:

Physical activity, such as yoga, tai chi, or gentle exercises, can help to reduce tremors and improve muscle control.

3. Use assistive devices:

Using specially designed utensils, such as weighted silverware or tripod grips, can make eating and writing easier.

4. Practice relaxation techniques:

Stress and anxiety can worsen tremors, so practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization can help reduce tremors.

5. Seek support:

Join a support group or connect with others who have ET to share experiences and coping strategies.

Remember, it is important to consult your neurologists for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific case of ET.

When to Contact a Neurologist

Contact your provider if:

  • Your tremor has increased
  • Daily activities are difficult for you because of your tremor
  • Medications you take for tremors have side effects

The outlook (Prognosis)

“Essential Tremor (ET) may cause inconveniences, such as embarrassment and annoyance due to its rhythmic shaking movements, which can sometimes impact daily activities like work, writing, eating, or drinking. However, it is not a dangerous condition.”

Possible Complications

There is also the possibility that the tremors may affect the vocal cords, leading to speech difficulties.

Prevention

It is possible to reduce tremors by drinking alcohol in small amounts. However, alcohol use disorders may develop in families with such histories.

Among the best Neurologists in Orlando, clinically trained neurologists and specialists offer the best essential tremor treatment and management.

04/21/2023

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