How Is Essential Tremor Diagnosed and What Are the Current Treatment Options?

Written by: Elizabeth Toigo, OMS-II

Essential tremor is the most common reason for tremor, affecting 24.91 million people worldwide[6]. Parkinson’s Disease is another unrelated cause for tremor. 

If you would like to speak to an expert on the subject of essential tremor, then contact OrthoNeuro. Our orthopedic surgeons are treating patients throughout Columbus, OH.

What is Essential Tremor?

Essential tremor is a movement disorder due to an abnormal signal from the brain that causes uncontrolled and rhythmic shaking[2]. It typically occurs in the hands but can also result in a voice or head tremor[1]

Although not life-threatening, it decreases quality of life by affecting daily tasks such as writing, eating, and drinking[4]. Essential tremor can even be perceived as embarrassing by many patients.  

There is no known cause of essential tremor, but it is most common in people aged 65 and older[5].

A patient with essential tremor shaky hands in Columbus, Ohio.

How Do I Know If I Have Essential Tremor?

Beyond unwanted and uncontrolled shaking, the most common symptoms of essential tremor include:

  • Tends to be more noticeable in the dominant hand
  • Worsens with holding objects or writing[3]
  • Commonly occurs in hands first, but can affect many parts of the body, including voice and head
  • May worsen with stress, fatigue, or caffeine[1]

How is Essential Tremor Diagnosed?

Essential tremor is diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Medical history, family history, symptoms, physical examination
  • Neurological examination
  • Laboratory tests such as thyroid level
  • Performance tests- drink from a glass, hold arms outstretched, write a sentence, draw a spiral figure[1]

What Are the Treatment Options for Essential Tremor?

Treatments for essential tremor aim to control the symptoms. The following treatments are available for essential tremor:

  • Beta blockers- blocks stimulation from brain chemicals that lead to trembling[3]
  • Anti-seizure medications- possible option for patients who do not respond to beta blockers
  • Tranquilizers- this is a treatment option for patients whose tremor is worsened with tension or anxiety
  • (Botox) OnabotulinumtoxinA injections- relaxes excessive muscle contractions[3]
  • Surgery- reserved for those who do not respond to other treatment methods who have a severely disabling tremor[1]

Although there is no cure for essential tremors, treatment can help control or limit tremors in patients, thus improving quality of life. Unfortunately, essential tremor is a life-long condition that does not improve on its own, but a neurologist can help guide you in diagnosis and finding a beneficial treatment plan[4].

Book an Appointment Now

If you would like to see how orthopedic treatment can help with essential tremor, contact our team of specialists at OrthoNeuro. Our orthopedic surgeons are fully trained to diagnose and treat several nerve-related disorders. You can find our office throughout Columbus, OH.


  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, March 29). Essential tremor. Mayo Clinic. 
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Essential tremor. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 
  3. Essential tremor disorder. JHM. (2021, August 8). 
  4. professional, C. C. medical. (n.d.). Essential tremor: What it is, causes, symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. 
  5. Elble, R.J. What is Essential Tremor?. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 13, 353 (2013).
  6. Song P, Zhang Y, Zha M, Yang Q, Ye X, Yi Q, Rudan I. The global prevalence of essential tremor, with emphasis on age and sex: A meta-analysis. J Glob Health. 2021 Apr 10;11:04028. doi: 10.7189/jogh.11.04028. PMID: 33880180; PMCID: PMC8035980.

Medically Reviewed by Martin Taylor, DO, PhD

Request A Callback

Take The First Step Today.

Call: (614) 890-6555