Essential Tremor is a common movement disorder. It is a neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking, typically in the head, arms and hands.
The shaking makes it difficult to perform basic tasks such as writing, eating and drinking, so it can significantly impact people’s quality of life. In most cases the symptoms gradually get worse over time.
Diagnosing Essential Tremor
There are no definitive tests for essential tremor, so it is diagnosed by ruling out other possible conditions that could be causing the same symptoms. This is done through physical examination, reviewing your health history, and by conducting some laboratory and neurological tests.
A referral to MyMichigan's Movement Disorders Clinic may provide peace of mind by helping you understand your symptoms and how to manage your condition. A movement disorders specialist listens to your story to better understand when and how the tremor occurs and how it is affecting your life. This enables her to counsel you and your caregivers on next steps for properly diagnosing, treating and managing your condition.
For some patients, medications may help control the shaking. For those who are no longer getting good symptom relief with medications, there are two main surgical options:
- Deep Brain Stimulation - An electrode is surgically inserted in the part of the brain that controls the tremor. This wire is connected to an implanted device that is similar to a pacemaker.
- Gamma Knife - A non-invasive procedure that uses targeted beams to alter the VIM nucleus and and or eliminate the shaking. This procedure is safer than open craniotomy and more precise than any other radiosurgery device including CyberKnife. Patients go home the same day and resume their normal activities the following day.