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Essential Tremor Symptoms

Essential Tremor Symptoms

Neal Hermanowicz (Director of the Movement Disorders Program) gives expert video advice on: When does a person with essential tremor show symptoms?; Besides tremors, what are other symptoms of essential tremor? and more...

What kind of tremor is associated with essential tremor?

The symptoms of essential tremor commonly include the shaking of the hands, and usually this means both hands. It starts usually on both sides, not necessarily, but the great majority of people who have essential tremor will notice it in both their hands during activity, during use, when they're writing, when they're eating or other activities. Essential tremor may also cause involuntary shaking of the head in some people, and it may be just the head, it's not necessarily the hands and head. It may just be the shaking of the head, and it can be in the rollatory fashion, but it can be a no-no or a yes-yes type of movement. Essential tremor can also cause voice tremor or a rhythmic shaking of the voice. And in some cases, maybe about a third of people will have some shaking of their legs too. Classically, essential tremor's cause is the shaking of the hands alone, but other body parts can be affected as well.

When does a person with essential tremor show symptoms?

The tremor associated with essential tremors is most evident during activity, when somebody's eating or writing a cheque in a checkout line at the grocery store, or putting a key in the lock. That's when the tremor emerges. When somebody is seated at rest, the tremor is usually not evident. Essential tremor also affects the head. Some people can have a head tremor simply seated at rest during conversation, for example, their head may be shaking.

Besides tremors, what are other symptoms of essential tremor?

Essential tremor is just tremor. The essential part means that there isn't another underlying neurological problem causing the tremor. So, in people with essential tremor, we usually see just that, tremor. Now, some people with essential tremor may have some instability of gait, or a sense of unsteadiness while walking. Typically, essential tremor is just shaking, again most often of the hands. Sometimes it involves the head. It may involve the voice. It rarely, or infrequently, involves the legs. Otherwise, there aren't other associated neurological phenomena associated with essential tremor.