Essential tremor is a common neurological condition that causes rhythmic shaking (tremor), usually of the hands and arms.
Essential tremor affects men and women equally and usually starts around 40 years of age. The cause of essential tremor is not known. In a proportion of cases, there may be a family history.
Essential tremor causes rhythmic shaking (tremor) of the hands and arms, typically on action e.g. holding a cup of tea or using cutlery. Some patients can experience tremor affecting their head and voice.
There is no cure for essential tremor. Some patients may experience a reduction in tremor following consumption of alcoholic beverages. Certain oral medications (beta blockers and anti-seizure medications) may reduce tremor in up about two thirds of patients. In patients with disabling tremor not responding to medications, deep brain stimulation surgery may be considered.
Essential tremor may worsen over time but the progression tends to be very slow. It is not a dangerous condition but can be disabling if tremor becomes severe.
Essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease are different neurological conditions. It is debatable whether essential tremor is associated with an increased risk of subsequent development of Parkinson’s disease.