Essential Tremor

What Is an Essential Tremor?

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Causes and Symptoms of Essential Tremor

The cause of essential tremor is still being investigated. Sometimes, the condition occurs in families and is called familial tremor.

Symptoms can vary in intensity, location and the age of onset. Although there are higher incidences of essential tremor (ET) in older age groups, adolescents and younger children can develop ET. Initial symptoms most often appear in the hands, but can also affect different areas:

  • Tremors occur when the affected body part is kinetic—in motion
  • Tremors may occur during daily actions such as drinking from a cup, writing, holding a paper or punching in numbers on your phone
  • Shaking or quaking may occur in the head (jaw, chin, face tongue, etc.), voice, hands, arms, trunk or legs
  • May affect one side of the body more than the other
  • Tremors may be triggered by stress, fatigue or caffeine
  • Unlike Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms of ET do not manifest during rest or when the body is still.

How Is Essential Tremor Diagnosed?

A detailed medical history—including any history of familial tremor—and a comprehensive physical exam can help your neurologist accurately diagnose essential tremor.

State-of-the-Art Treatments for Essential Tremor at NSPC

For patients with essential tremor, especially children, occupational therapy can help mitigate some of the disease’s interference in daily life. Medications may also be useful, for instance, beta-adrenergic blockers such as Propranolol or Primidone, anti-seizure drugs, benzodiazepines like Klonopin (Clonazepam), or botulinum toxin such as Botox. Head and voice shaking has been reduced with regular injections of Botox.

If the more conservative approaches are not successful in controlling the tremors, then surgical methods may be recommended.

Non-invasive Treatments

Deep Brain Stimulation—some patients have called this treatment miraculous. This reversible and controllable treatment has been successful for several movement disorders including dystonia, Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.

Gamma Knife® Thalamotomy is a non-invasive procedure for patients who may not be candidates for deep brain stimulation. A cluster of cells in the thalamus, called the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM), is where the overactivity originates within the brain causing the symptoms of essential tremor. Gamma Knife thalamotomy uses radiation to target and destroy this tiny part of the thalamus, while keeping the surrounding healthy tissue.

With board-certified neurologists and neurosurgeons at NSPC Brain & Spine Surgery (NSPC) (NSPC) who specialize in movement disorders and their successful treatments, you can be confident in receiving the safest and most effective treatment for your condition, with the best possible results.

Our knowledgeable multidisciplinary staff and cutting-edge medical facilities are located in the New York region. NSPC’s award-winning doctors and specialists are leaders in the NY area, often serving as chiefs of neurosurgery in Long Island’s premier hospitals.


Brian Snyder

M.D., F.A.N.N.S.


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