Essential tremor is a type of movement disorder. This is a category of neurological conditions that involve abnormalities in the quality and quantity of spontaneous movement. Essential tremor causes involuntary shaking, particularly in the hands. There are typically no other symptoms, which sets this condition apart from other movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Causes of Essential Tremor
The tremor tends to appear more pronounced the harder the muscles are working, such as during movement or by extending an arm. When the muscles are at rest, the tremor is typically not noticeable. Besides the hands, the tremor may sometimes be present in the muscles of the arms, head, face, neck and midsection of the body. It is rare for the tremor to occur in the legs. When the head is affected, the tremor will usually be a side-to-side or up-and-down motion that takes place when the patient is in an upright position. Essential tremor may also involve the voice, which may quiver. The symptoms can increase when the patient is experiencing stress or fatigue or has had caffeine or cigarettes.
Essential tremor is not a life-threatening disorder, but for those with severe symptoms, it can impinge on the ability to perform everyday activities. The fine motor skills of the hands may deteriorate, making certain tasks such as writing, putting on makeup, drinking from a cup and eating with utensils much more difficult. Sometimes essential tremor occurs in concert with another neurological disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease or dystonia.