Tremor is an involuntary shaking movement that is
repeated over and over. Although it may affect any part of the body, tremor
most often affects the hands and head. Your voice may also shake. Sometimes
the feet or torso may also shake.
Essential tremor, which
sometimes runs in families, is one of the most common types of tremor. It is
shaking that is most noticeable when you are doing something like lifting a cup
or pointing at an object. The shaking does not occur when you are not moving.
Medicine can help reduce the shaking. Brain surgery can be helpful in some
Tremors can also be caused by conditions or medicines
that affect the nervous system, including
Parkinson's disease, liver failure, alcoholism,
mercury or arsenic poisoning, lithium, and certain antidepressants. Side
effects from other medicines can also cause tremors.
notice a tremor, observe it carefully and note what seems to make it better or
worse before calling your doctor. There are some differences between essential tremor and tremor caused by Parkinson's disease. If a cause is discovered, the
disease will be treated rather than the tremor.
When to Call a Doctor
Call your doctor if:
You suddenly develop a
tremor or if an existing tremor becomes
Tremor interferes with your ability to do daily activities
or keeps you from taking part in social events.
You suspect that
tremor may be a side effect of a medicine.
Some tremors can be treated with medicine or surgery.
A tremor caused by Parkinson's disease may get better if your Parkinson's disease is treated.
Essential tremor is usually treated with medicine, such as:
Primidone (for example, Mysoline).
Propranolol (for example, Inderal).
Essential tremor that doesn't get better with medicine may be treated with surgery, such as:
Add a little weight to
your hand by wearing a heavy bracelet or watch or holding something in your
hand. This may reduce some tremors and restore more control to your
Drink beverages from half-filled cups or glasses, and use a
Get enough rest and sleep.
Fatigue often makes a tremor worse.
your caffeine intake.
Other Places To Get Help
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
American Academy of Family
P.O. Box 11210
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207-1210
The website FamilyDoctor.org is sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It offers information on adult and child health conditions and healthy living. There are topics on medicines, doctor visits, physical and mental health issues, parenting, and more.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.