Patient Spotlight: Michael Riley

A minor tremor can be an annoyance, but a severe tremor can have a huge impact on anyone’s daily life. Luckily, through advances in tremor treatment, many patients with essential tremor are beginning to regain the autonomy they lost once their tremors began. Michael Riley, a former chiropractor and mountain climber, found his once-minor tremors to become unbearable after an injury—until he sought treatment.

Riley was first diagnosed with essential tremor 35 years ago. At the time, they were minor and manageable, not impacting his work. But a year ago, he suffered a severe rotator cuff injury, and later developed CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome). He received 8 shots to minimize the pain—but the entire ordeal had caused his tremors to become unbearable within the span of a year.

His pain, followed by his tremors, affected his chiropractic work. He first had to stop due to his hands being in too much pain to touch anyone—and then had to stop again because of how bad his right hand was shaking. As an independent person, Riley was frustrated at how deep the tremor affected him. He could no longer write poetry, either by hand or on a computer. He struggled to eat and to button up a shirt. He recounts how he once had to ask a stranger to tie his shoe while in a department store.

No dose of medication could keep his tremor under control. He started taking 5mg a day and kept upping his dose until he capped at 750 mg daily. The medications were no help, and Riley turned down his doctor’s suggestion to pursue the invasive surgery, Deep Brain Stimulation.

Riley’s wife decided to do her own research. She discovered the Essential Tremor Education Center and reached out for information about potential treatment. The turnaround was quick. Two weeks later, Riley was able to undergo focused ultrasound treatment for his tremors. The benefits were immediate. On Tremor Chats, he shows a pre-treatment video of his right hand, severely shaking even in slow motion. He then held up his treated right hand—completely steady.

Want to hear more of Riley’s story? You can see his tremor treatment journey on his appearance on Tremor Chats. And if you want to know if focused ultrasound or another type of treatment may be beneficial for you, please reach out to one of our educators by calling 844-NO-TREMOR.