Tremor is a common condition and leads many people to seek neurological evaluation. While some tremors are due to conditions that can become debilitating or dangerous, many patients have a benign condition known as an essential tremor. In most cases, this is a very treatable disease.
What is an essential tremor?
Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder. It consists of an involuntary shaking usually in the hands, but can also involve the legs, head, or other parts of the body. The cause of essential tremor is unknown, but it does tend to run in families.
Is an essential tremor harmful?
Essential tremor can be very bothersome, interfering with the patient’s life and also increase the concern that he or she might have a serious disease. While patients with essential tremor do have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease in the future, this risk is still quite low overall; in the majority of cases these patients do not progress to serious illness or disease.
What should I do if I have a tremor?
See a neurologist who has been trained in the assessment of tremor and other movement disorders. By performing a comprehensive history and physical examination, a neurologist can clarify the nature of your tremor and determine if it is a benign essential tremor or if it may represent a more serious condition. In some cases, additional testing such as blood tests, brain MRI, or PET scans can help clarify the diagnosis.
It there a cure for essential tremor?
There is not a cure for essential tremor, but there are many oral medications that can dramatically reduce the symptoms. These medications can be used daily or on an as-needed basis and are well tolerated by most patients. In those few patients with severe disease who do not respond to oral therapy, more advanced treatments such as Botox and deep brain stimulation have been shown to be effective.
Calli Cook, MSN, FNP-C
Midtown Neurology P.C.
Calli Cook, MSN, FNP-C, is a Nurse Practitioner at Midtown Neurology. She received her Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.