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Essential tremor (ET)
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Essential tremor (ET)

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Movement Disorders

Essential Tremor - sometimes referred to as Benign Essential Tremor - is a fine to moderate tremor which has no known cause. Tremors are rhythmic, involuntary, alternating movements which may affect any part of the body.


Most people with essential tremor don't need treatment beyond reassurance that the condition isn't a sign of a more serious disease. Lifestyle changes, which include avoiding stressful situations and stimulants such as caffeine, may help ease the tremors. If the disorder is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy, your doctor may recommend these options:

Medications provide relief from tremor about 40 percent to 60 percent of the time. They include:

  • Beta blockers. Normally used to treat high blood pressure, beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal) help relieve tremors in about 50 percent of people. Possible side effects include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and impotence. Because beta blockers are especially likely to cause confusion and memory loss in older adults, they may be a better choice for younger people. They also may not be an option if you have asthma, diabetes or certain heart problems.

  • Antiseizure medications. These drugs, especially primidone (Mysoline), may be effective in people who don't respond to beta blockers. The main side effects are drowsiness and flu-like symptoms, which usually disappear in time.

  • Tranquilizers. Drugs such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) are sometimes used to treat people whose tremors are made much worse by tension or anxiety. Side effects can include confusion and memory loss.

  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Sometimes drugs such as methazolamide (GlaucTabs, Neptazane) or acetazolamide (Diamox) — commonly used to treat the eye disease glaucoma — may be effective when other medications are not.

  • Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections. You're probably familiar with Botox as a treatment for facial wrinkles, but it can also be useful in treating some types of tremors, especially of the head and voice. When used to treat hand tremors, Botox can sometimes cause weakness in your fingers.

Surgery may be an option for people whose tremors are severely disabling and who don't respond to medications:

  • Thalamotomy. This procedure may help the small number of people whose essential tremor is disabling. Thalamotomy involves destroying a tiny part of your thalamus — a message relay center deep within your brain. Destruction of a small region of the thalamus on one side of your brain typically relieves tremor on the opposite side of your body. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of people who undergo the operation experience substantial relief from essential tremor. However, the operation as usually performed can relieve tremors only on one side of your body. Surgeons usually don't operate on both sides of the thalamus because doing so poses a risk of speech loss and other complications.

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS). A treatment involving a brain implant device called a thalamic stimulator may be appropriate if you have severe tremors and medications aren't effective. A pacemaker-like chest unit transmits electrical pulses through a wire to a lead implanted in your thalamus. The pulses, which are painless, may interrupt signals from your thalamus that help cause tremors. You turn the pulse generator on and off by passing a magnet over your chest. This procedure doesn't pose the risks of thalamotomy and can be performed on both sides of your brain.


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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.



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