Learning to Manage Essential Tremor

You need steady hands to perform a variety of tasks every day. So it is going to be disconcerting when you suddenly notice that your hands are shaking.

In some cultures, they believe that your hand will start to shake when you regularly wash your hands after using your hands for a long time, such as typing, writing, painting, or ironing clothes. There might be some truth to it, but essential tremor, which is characterized by uncontrollable shaking of the hands or other parts of the body, is different from a spasm. The muscle contraction is rhythmic. Essential tremor commonly occurs in the dominant hand, or the vocal cords, head, chin, or arms. It rarely affects the lower part of the body.

What causes essential tremor?

The exact cause of the nerve disorder is not known. Researchers believe that it starts from the cerebellum, the part of the brain controlling balance and movement, or at the thalamus, which is located on top of the brain stem. Although the disorder is not life-threatening, it is hereditary. The thing to remember is that essential tremor is different from Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms of essential tremor

Consult your doctor if you notice these things, which are symptoms of essential tremor:

  • You experience brief but uncontrollable shaking, probably the hands
  • Your voice shakes
  • You cannot stop your head from nodding
  • The tremors intensify when you are stressed
  • The tremors increase when you’re trying to do something
  • The shaking reduces when you take a rest
  • You cannot control your balance (quite rare)

How does the disorder develop?

Essential tremor usually manifests in people in their 40s. At first, the symptoms are subtle, such as slight trembling of the hand that makes threading a needle, holding a cup or glass, or writing challenging. Later, when they are in their 50s and 60s, the tremor could be more significant and troublesome, and interfering with the things they usually do quickly.

How to manage essential tremor?

The disorder can make independent living difficult. It’s a good thing that while there is no permanent cure, you can manage the disorder with medications and alternative treatments, such as ultrasound technology that is described in detail at Essential-Tremor.com.

Change of lifestyle

Changing your lifestyle can help as well, so you can enjoy your life better. Avoid caffeine, use a credit or debit card rather than checks, and use a mug with lid and straw at home and when going out.

Physical therapy

You can engage the services of an occupational therapist to improve the strength, functioning and control of your muscles, so you can enhance your balance and coordination.

Relaxation techniques

If your tremor is caused by psychological triggers, such as panic or anxiety, learning relaxation techniques is beneficial. You can do deep breathing exercises, yoga, visualization, self-massage, or progressive muscle relaxation techniques.


Your doctor can prescribe some beta-blockers, such as nadolol, metoprolol or propranolol. Primidone, which is an anti-seizure medicine, can also be prescribed by the doctor.

When you notice any or all of the symptoms of essential tremor, visit your doctor immediately. 


Learning to Manage Essential Tremor

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