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Benign Essential Tremor
(Essential Tremor; Familial Tremor)
- Postural tremor—shaking in certain positions only, such as with arms outstretched
- Kinetic or action tremor—shaking that gets worse during activities, such as eating or shaving
- Tremor that occurs when standing or moving the limbs, but not usually at rest
- Uncontrollable, rhythmic movement
- Shaking most common in hands, arms, head, or voice
- Shaking only in certain positions or during activity
- Trouble with fine motor skills such as drawing, sewing, or playing an instrument
- Shaking that gets worse from caffeine, stress, fatigue, or heat
- Shaking that may decrease when using alcohol
- Hearing loss
- Problems with social, functional, or job-related abilities in more severe cases
- Staying well-rested
- Avoiding caffeine
- Avoiding stimulants often found in over-the-counter medications, like cold remedies
- Avoiding temperature extremes
- Anti-seizure medications
- Botulinum injections
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS)—sends painless electrical pulses to the brain, interrupting faulty signals
- Thalamotomy—destroys a tiny part of the brain (less commonly performed than DBS)
International Essential Tremor Foundation http://essentialtremor.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Parkinson Society Canada http://www.parkinson.ca
About essential tremor. International Essential Tremor Foundation website. Available at: http://essentialtremor.org/about-et/. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Essential tremor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 27, 2013. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Essential tremor. International Radiosurgery Support Association website. Available at: http://www.irsa.org/essential%5Ftremor.html. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Lorenz D, Deuschl G. Update on pathogenesis and treatment of essential tremor. Current Opinions in Neurology. 2007;20:447-452.
Sadeghi R, Ondo WG. Pharmacological management of essential tremor. Drugs. 2010:70(17):2215-28.
Smaga S. Tremor. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(8):1545-1552.
What is essential tremor? Who gets ET? International Essential Tremor Foundation website. Available at: http://essentialtremor.org/About-ET. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Xie T, Bernard J, et al. Post subthalamic area deep brain stimulation for tremors: a mini review. Transl Neurodegener. 2012;1(1):20.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 02/12/2014