Essential tremor is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive and regular shaking of a body part. It is a benign condition mainly affecting the arm and fingers. Sometimes other body parts such as head, neck, tongue, leg and feet can also become tremulous. Patient suffering from essential tremor frequently complains of difficulty in writing, pouring drink, holding a jar or a cup.
Essential tremor is absent at rest. It is more evident when the affected person remains in a sustained posture for a long period or in sustained action. The condition can begin at any age, but it is more common in people over 40 and above.
The exact cause of essential tremor is not known, but it is suspected to have genetic connection in some patients. Prescription drugs as well as certain home remedies are effective in reducing the tremors and preventing its worsening.
Causes Of Essential Tremor Disease
Tremors are caused when there is some problem in a part of brain or nerves that innervate muscles. Tremor can occur due to various conditions such as alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid gland dysfunction, etc. However, these tremors are not essential tremors.
The exact cause of essential tremor is not known, however, genetic predisposition is highly suspected as the condition is seen in many family members.It is therefore also referred as familial tremor. According to research the condition prevails as certain part of brain may have changes that may cause essential tremor. Generally essential tremor occurs in people over the age of 40 years.
Symptoms Of Essential Tremor Syndrome
Involuntary shaking of the part of body is the only symptom in many cases of essential tremor. However, the symptoms may be variable and may be different in each individual. The symptoms may be mild and periodic in onset.
The main characteristic is tremors occur in action. It does not occur when the patient is resting. It is prominently seen in fingers, although rarely other parts of body are also involved such as neck, hand, or feet. Here are various notable symptoms of essential tremor.
- Patient is unable to hold small object such as a cup or a jar. He is not able to write properly due to tremors in fingers while writing.
- The symptoms come and recede, but may become worse over a period of time.
- Shaking of hands may become worse with stress, excess of caffeine, and with certain medications.
- Essential tremors can be unilateral.
- Involuntary movement of head.
- If voice box is affected, there may be quivering sound.
- Essential tremor has frequency 5-8 Hz. It means the movements of fingers are five to eight times faster in a second than normal.
Treatment Options For Essential Tremor
Essential tremor is not serious condition or life threatening condition. However, it can affect the daily life of a person when the symptoms worsen. In such situation when daily activities are affected, person has to discuss treatment options with his physician.
Modern prescription medications such as beta blockers, tranquilizers, anti-seizure medicines, are found useful in reducing essential tremor. These medications also prevent its worsening.
Certain lifestyle changes are beneficial in such patients:
- Patient should avoid smoking.
- He should refrain from excess intake of caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
- Should hold heavier utensils or cups.
- While writing he should use pen that is heavy or a metal body pen.
- Patient should avoid stress.
- Omega 3 fatty acid is found beneficial. Flax seeds, fish and other foods that are rich source of omega 3.
- Herb valerian is natural calming agent. It calms the nerves and induces sleep that is required when you are stressed.
In certain severe cases surgery may help. High powered x–ray is focused on certain part of brain that is affected. A device is implanted in the brain that stimulates the area of brain that controls movement.