Benign essential tremor (ET) is a movement disorder most commonly characterized by shaking in the hands. It occurs in as much as 10% of people over the age of 60. It may also cause shaking of the head, voice, arms, and trunk, and less often, of the legs and feet. Two types of tremor are common with ET:
Postural tremor—shaking in certain positions only, such as with arms outstretched
Kinetic or action tremor—shaking that gets worse during activities, such as eating or shaving
In some cases, ET can be socially isolating. It may interfere with normal daily activities, such as writing or speaking. If so, contact your doctor for an evaluation.
The cause of ET is unknown. However, it does run in families. When inherited, it is often called familial tremor. Children of parents with ET have a 50% chance of inheriting the condition.
In cases where there is no family history of tremor, other factors, such as toxins, may play a role, though this is far from clear. It is thought that essential tremor arises from abnormalities of specific circuits in the brain. This is an area that researchers are studying.
The Nervous System
Benign essential tremor occur when faulty nerve cells (or circuits) in the brain send abnormal signals to muscles.
Problems with social, functional, or occupational abilities (More severe cases interfere with these abilities.)
To be considered as having ET, tremors must not be related to other health conditions.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and your medical and family history. He will also do a physical exam, paying particular attention to the central nervous system. At this time, there are no special tests to diagnose ET. But, you may have blood, urine, or other tests (eg,
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a