What is a tremor?
A tremor is a rhythmical movement that occurs unintentionally and uncontrollably in one part of your body. You can experience a tremor at any time and in any part of the body. The problem is usually caused by a malfunction in the part of the brain that controls muscular movement.
A tremor isn’t always a serious symptom, but it can sometimes be an indication of a serious condition. The majority of tremors aren’t treatable, but many of them disappear on their own.
It is vital to note that muscle spasms, muscle twitches, and tremors are different things. Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions of a muscle. In muscle twitches, a small part of a larger muscle moves uncontrollably. There may be a visible twitch beneath the skin.
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Types of tremors
Generally, tremors can be classified as either resting or action tremors.
When you’re lying or sitting still, you’ll notice resting tremors. After you start moving around, the tremor will disappear. In most cases, retching tremors affect only the hands and fingers.
A tremor of action occurs when the affected body part moves. Subcategories of action tremors include:
- If you touch your finger to your nose, you are experiencing an intentional tremor.
- Postural tremors occur when you hold a position against gravity, such as with your arm or leg extended.
- Writing, for example, causes task-specific tremors.
- A kinetic tremor occurs when you move your wrist.
- Isometric tremor occurs when a muscle contracts without moving in any other direction.
Read: Focal Dystonia
Categories of tremors
Tremors can also be classified by their appearance and cause, in addition to their type.
Movement disorders are most commonly caused by essential tremors.
Most essential tremors are either postural tremors or intention tremors. There may be no progression or slight progress of essential tremor. It is common for the essential tremor to begin on one side and soon spread to both sides.
A disease process was not thought to be associated with essential tremors. Studies have found that they can be associated with mild degeneration in the cerebellum, which controls motor movement in the brain.
A few of the symptoms of essential tremor include:
- Mild difficulty walking
- Disabilities related to hearing
- Family tendencies
Read: Generalized Dystonia
As the first sign of Parkinson’s disease, a Parkinsonian tremor usually manifests as a resting tremor.
The movement-controlling brain parts are damaged. Symptoms usually appear after the age of 60. An area of the body or a limb gets affected before progressing to the opposite side.
Dystonic tremors occur irregularly. You can relieve these tremors by resting completely. Dystonic experience this tremor.
Dystonia is an involuntary muscle contraction movement disorder. A twisting movement or abnormal posture, such as picking up the elbow, is caused by muscle contractions. Any age can experience them.
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The cerebellum controls movement and balance in the hindbrain. Cerebellar tremor occurs when there is damage or lesions to the cerebellum, resulting in:
- A stroke
- Several types of diseases, including multiple sclerosis
Chronic alcoholism or overuse of medications may also be to blame.
Speak to a healthcare professional if you are dealing with chronic alcoholism or medication management issues. An effective treatment plan can be created for you with their help. Additionally, they can assist you in connecting with other professional resources if needed.
Various tremor types can accompany psychogenic tremors. Among its characteristics are:
- Remission that occurs suddenly
- Directional changes in your tremors and changes to the body part affected
- When distracted, activity is greatly reduced
Many patients with psychogenic tremors suffer from conversion disorder or another mental disorder that causes them to have physical symptoms.
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Usually, orthostatic tremors affect the legs. Immediately after you stand, you will feel a rapid, rhythmic muscle contraction.
The feeling of being unsteady is often accompanied by this tremor. Clinically, there are no additional signs or symptoms. You stop feeling unsteady when:
- Are lifted
- Start walking
The most common causes of a physiologic tremor include:
- Certain drugs
- Alcohol withdrawal
- An overactive thyroid gland, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), electrolyte imbalances or other medical conditions
If the cause of a physiologic tremor is eliminated, the tremor usually goes away.
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The following factors can cause tremors:
- Prescription medications
There are many causes of tremors, including:
Tremors can be caused by the following medical conditions:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Degenerative disease that causes neurons in the brain to stop producing dopamine, Parkinson’s disease
- Several diseases of the brain and spinal cord cause multiple sclerosis, which is an immune system attack on the brain and spinal cord
- The overproduction of thyroid hormone causes hyperthyroidism
How are tremors diagnosed?
It’s not unusual to have tremors sometimes. Tremor may occur when you’re stressed, anxious or afraid. The tremor usually stops after the feeling subsides. The occurrence of tremors is also associated with neurological or muscular diseases.
If you develop unexplained tremors, you should see a doctor.
Your doctor will examine the affected area during a physical examination. The presence of tremors can be seen visually. It’s only after your doctor performs further tests that your cause of the tremor can be determined.
You may need to hold or write something for your doctor to evaluate the level of your tremor. Blood and urine samples may also be collected by your doctor to check for thyroid disease or other medical conditions.
During the neurological exam, the doctor could order tests. The purpose of this exam is to determine how well your nervous system is functioning. You will be measured according to:
- Tendon reflexes
- Muscle strength
- Muscle tone
- Ability to feel the touch
The following may be necessary during the exam:
- Put your finger on your nose
- Draw a spiral
- Exercises or other tasks
Electromyograms, or EMGs, may also be prescribed by your doctor. The test measures involuntary muscle movements and nerve stimulation-induced muscle movements.
What is the treatment for tremors?
You may be able to cure the tremor if you receive treatment for the underlying condition causing it. Tremors can be treated by:
Treatment of tremors may be effective with specific medications. You may be prescribed them by your doctor. There are a number of medicines available, including:
High blood pressure and heart disease are usually treated with beta-blockers. Some people have noticed a reduction in tremors when they take them.
Tremors that are triggered by anxiety may be relieved with tranquilizers such as alprazolam (Xanax).
Many people who have tremors that aren’t helped by beta-blockers or who aren’t able to take beta-blockers are prescribed anti-seizure medications.
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Tremors may also be relieved by Botox injections. Often, people with facial and head tremors are given these injections.
Strengthening your muscles and improving your coordination may be possible with physical therapy. Tremors may also be relieved using wrist weights and heavy utensils, such as heavier forks.
Brain stimulation surgery
Debilitating tremors may only be treated by brain stimulation surgery. This procedure involves inserting an electrical probe into the portion of your brain that is causing tremors.
During the procedure, a wire is threaded through the probe and into your chest via the skin. An implantable device attached to a wire is placed in your chest by the surgeon. To prevent tremors, pulses are transmitted to the probe by the device.