What is Essential Tremors?
Essential Tremors are a common Movement Disorder. These tremors are unintentional, somewhat rhythmic muscle movements. The disease affects areas of the brain that control movement, but the exact cause of the tremor is unknown. Essential Tremors affect approximately one in five people over the age of sixty-five. Patients commonly complain of tremors when eating, drinking, and writing. This condition is worsened by stress, fatigue, caffeine, and frequently by some medications.
Many people associate Essential Tremors with Parkinson’s Disease, but theses two conditions differ. Essentials Tremor patients experience the tremor symptoms while using their hands, while Parkinson’s Disease patients experience the tremor symptoms mainly while their hands are at rest.
Tests and Diagnosis
There is no specific test to diagnose Essential Tremors. Determining the diagnosis is a matter of taking careful history, performing neurological examinations, and ruling out other conditions. Neurologists may perform a series of neurological exams such as tendon reflexes, muscle strength and tone, ability to feel certain sensations, postures and coordination. Laboratory tests are also used to rule out thyroid disease and medication side effects.
Is there a cure or treatment?
There is no definitive cure for Essential Tremors and patients with mild symptoms may not require any treatment. A number of medications and physical measures have been shown to help control the tremors. In these cases, you will work with your Neurologist to determine the proper medication, dosages, and options for physical measures (such as adding weights to hands and using heavy utensils.)
In patients whose symptoms are more severe and can not be satisfactorily controlled by medications or physical measures, Deep Brain Stimulation may be used to control the tremor. This is a surgical procedure in which a neurosurgeon implants a neurostimulator to stop these tremors.
What is the prognosis?
Although an essential tremor is not life threatening, it becomes harder to perform daily tasks. People with Essential Tremors often lose the ability to perform simple tasks like driving or going to work. These tremors also become embarrassing for some people. Essential Tremors tend to worsen over time. As mentioned above, the condition can be treated. Please ask your doctor for options that suit your specific situation.