What Causes Essential Tremors?

Shaking LegEssential tremors aren’t usually a dangerous condition, but they can worsen over time and make it more difficult for you to complete your daily activities.

What Are Essential Tremors?

An essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes part of your body to shake uncontrollably.

It most commonly occurs in people who are 40 or older, and although it can affect almost any part of your body, it’s most common in your hands and forearms. This can cause difficulty when you’re trying to hold a glass, eat, write, or complete other simple daily tasks.

Other parts of the body that are commonly affected include the head, face, tongue, and neck. Although it’s uncommon – essential tremors can also occur in the lower part of the body

How Do You Get Essential Tremors?

Essential tremors are sometimes confused with a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Although this disease can cause tremors, essential tremors occur without an underlying cause.

Experts don’t completely understand what causes essential tremors. It may be the result of abnormal electrical brain activity within the thalamus, the structure in your brain that controls muscle activity.

Essential tremor also has a genetic component in about half of the people who have it. You could inherit a defective gene that’s responsible for essential tremors, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily experience symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Essential Tremors?

Essential tremors can cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Shaking that begins gradually, usually on one side of your body
  • Tremors that get worse for brief periods of time
  • Symptoms that usually start in one or both hands
  • Nodding head that moves in an up-and-down or side-to-side motion
  • Shaky voice
  • Tremors that may worsen with stress, fatigue, caffeine, or temperature extremes
  • Balance problems (rarely)

How Can You Avoid Them?

If you find that your tremors are made worse by the following triggers, you can take steps to avoid them:

  • Stress
  • Temperature extremes
  • Fatigue
  • Caffeine
  • Hunger
  • Smoking

What Are the Treatment Options for Essential Tremors?

If your symptoms are minor, you may not need treatment. But if they’re getting worse over time or are causing difficulties in your daily life, the following treatments may be used:


You may be able to take a beta-blocker or blood pressure medication to help limit adrenaline and relieve your tremors. Anticonvulsant medications or mild tranquilizers may also be options.


Physical therapy may be able to help with muscle control, and Botox injections in your hands can help weaken the muscles to help prevent or minimize shaking.


Surgery is not the first type of treatment used, but it may be considered for severe symptoms if other less-invasive forms of treatment haven’t been successful enough. Surgery options include deep brain stimulation, which utilizes small electrodes to block the nerve signals that cause tremors. Stereotactic radiosurgery is another type of treatment that involves the use of X-rays to pinpoint specific areas of your brain.

If you’re experiencing tremors, make an appointment today with Complete Neurological in NY. We have convenient locations in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, and the Bronx, and our neurologists are dedicated to providing the most effective, least invasive treatments to help relieve your essential tremors.

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