Even though essential tremor is a fairly common disorder, it is not very well known. Therefore, to help explain the disorder, the Essential Tremor Education Center has prepared this set of FAQs to help you understand everything from essential tremor symptoms and causes to treatment options.

What is essential tremor?

Essential tremor is a disorder that causes those afflicted to suffer tremors that typically worsen from mild to severe over time. These tremors typically affect the extremities – hands, head, or feet – when they are in motion. The tremors don’t continue when the extremities are at rest.

How is it diagnosed?

Essential tremor can sometimes be diagnosed by a general practitioner, but it’s best to be diagnosed by a specialized movement disorder neurologist.

What causes essential tremor?

Research indicates that essential tremor is the result of overactive cells found in the ventral intermediate nucleus section in the thalamus.

Is it hereditary?

Essential tremor is believed to be hereditary. The cause remains unknown, but data shows that if you have essential tremor there is a fifty percent chance your child will have it too. Essential tremor has also occurred in families with no history of the disorder.

What are the treatment options?

There are a few options when it comes to treatment, including various medications, deep brain stimulation, Gamma Knife surgery, and Neuravive:

  • Medicine used to treat tremors are typically beta-blockers or medicine typical for treating seizures.
  • Deep brain stimulation uses electrodes implanted in the brain to regulate abnormal brain activity that causes the tremors.
  • Gamma Knife surgery uses beams of radiation targeted at the nerves in the brain causing the tremors and can take a few months to make a noticeable change.
  • Neuravive is a procedure that uses FDA approved focused ultrasound technology (MRgFUS) to treat patients with essential tremor who have not responded to medication. This procedure uses conventional ultrasound beams, focused on a point inside of the brain, to destroy cells associated with the essential tremor.

How common is it?

Essential tremor affects approximately 10 million people in America.

Who’s at risk?

This neurological disorder is most common in those over 65 years of age, but is known to affect people as young as adolescents as well.
The first step in battling essential tremor is to understand the information that’s known about this movement disorder. Although these are just a list of the most frequently asked questions, essential tremor is unique to each individual and can affect people in different ways. For more information on essential tremor, explore our website or consult your doctor about the variety of treatment options that are available if you are experiencing essential tremor symptoms.