Essential Tremor Symptoms: From Initial Onset & On

What is the most common type of hand tremor? Many may say Parkinson’s, but it’s actually essential tremor. Despite essential tremor being the most common type of tremor, many are unaware that it exists and confuse essential tremor symptoms for other conditions. If you or a loved one have essential tremor, knowledge of the symptoms is one of the first steps toward learning how to manage and treat the tremor. Here is what to look out for as tremors begin and progress.

Essential tremor often starts in one upper extremity, most often a hand—although the head and voice can also be affected. At first, these tremors may be mild and intermittent, only acting up during times of high emotion. Over time, however, the tremors can become more persistent. Tremors in one hand can also become more severe and begin to affect the other hand. Some asymmetry between the hand tremors is normal.

Essential tremor is classified as an action tremor—meaning that hand tremors are worse when you’re trying to use your hands, such as when you write your name or pour a glass of water. The tremor is less severe when hands are at rest. This can be a source of stress for many individuals, especially those who need steady hands for their job.

Symptoms can be further aggravated by several triggers, such as stress, hunger, fatigue or extreme temperatures. Management of these triggers can be a major step toward managing symptoms—keeping stress levels low and minimizing the use of stimulants such as caffeine can help keep tremors from worsening. Still, initially manageable tremors can become more severe later.

Many who experience essential tremor symptoms find ways to manage them, but if the tremor affects your day-to-day life then it may be time to investigate treatment options. These options include medication, invasive surgery, and non-invasive options such as Gamma Knife and MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound. If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms and are looking for potential treatment options, please call the Essential Tremor Education Center at 844-NO-TREMOR to speak to one of our educators to see what options may be available.