Essential Tremor

What is essential tremor, and what are my treatment options?

Essential tremor is a common movement disorder causing uncontrollable involuntary movements that can interfere with daily activities. 

At OrthoNeuro in Columbus, Ohio, our expert neurologist uses state-of-the-art diagnostics to confirm your condition and provide personalized therapies to manage your symptoms and restore your quality of life.

What Is Essential Tremor?

Essential tremor is uncontrollable shaking caused by a brain disorder that affects around 10 million Americans.

Other names for the condition include familial tremor, benign essential tremor, intention tremor, or hereditary tremor. 

It usually affects both hands but may be more noticeable in the dominant hand. It can occur with activities such as eating, writing, shaving, and applying makeup. It can also occur in the head and voice. 

Symptoms of essential tremor can gradually worsen over time. Symptoms and progression of the disease vary between patients.

Some of the symptoms of essential tremor include:

  • Rhythmic tremors and involuntary movements
  • Head nodding either up and down or side to side
  • Voice quivering
  • Tremors intensify during stress

What Causes Essential Tremor?

Medical researchers haven’t identified a specific cause of essential tremor. There’s thought to be an abnormal signal from the brain to the muscles.

If you have a relative with essential tremor you may be more likely to develop symptoms.

When Should I Talk to a Doctor about Tremors?

Talk to your doctor if you have a tremor that is bothersome and/or interfering with activities of daily living.

How Is Essential Tremor Diagnosed?

While there isn’t a specific test to diagnose essential tremor, your neurologist can perform a physical and neurological examination, review your medical history and symptoms, and complete tests to rule out other conditions before confirming the disorder causing your tremor. 

During your physical, your neurologist may give you a performance test to observe your tremor while completing routine tasks such as drinking a glass of water, writing your name, or drawing a spiral.

You might need to hold your arms outstretched, touch your finger to your nose, or walk around the office.

Your doctor also assesses your:

  • Muscle strength and tone
  • Tendon reflexes
  • Gait
  • Posture and coordination
  • Ability to feel various sensations

Your health care provider may order lab tests to rule out thyroid disease or other health issues that could cause tremors.

What Are the Treatments for Essential Tremor?

Once your doctor confirms your diagnosis, they can begin to treat essential tremor. 

Here at OrthoNeuro, we offer a comprehensive range of therapies and often combine them for a personalized, multidisciplinary approach. 

People with essential tremor may benefit from:

Lifestyle Adjustments

Your doctor may suggest that you give up caffeine, practice stress management techniques, and ensure that you get enough high-quality sleep. 

You might find that adaptive devices such as wide-grip utensils and pens can help compensate for tremors. 

Some patients benefit from physical therapy to enhance their muscle strength.


Depending on your symptoms and individual needs, your neurologist might prescribe medication to lessen your tremors, such as:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-seizure medicine
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Botulinum toxin therapy

Surgical Treatment

In more severe cases that fail to respond to medication, surgical treatment may be considered.

Your neurologist may recommend a surgical procedure to modify the abnormal brain signals that trigger your severe tremor. 

They may suggest deep brain stimulation (DBS) or radiosurgery.


Your neurologist places an electrode into your brain, usually in the thalamus. The electrode connects to a small stimulator that your surgeon implants under the skin of your chest. 

It acts similarly to a pacemaker, sending pulses into your brain to block the abnormal nerve signals.


Radiosurgery is an outpatient procedure. It uses highly focused radiation to create lesions on the overactive brain cells in your thalamus causing your tremor.

Call your doctor today for a referral for a consultation from OrthoNeuro’s Neurologist if your tremors occur frequently and interfere with your life.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Neurological Specialist Today!

If you have been experiencing symptoms of essential tremor, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic Neurologists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. Best of all, most patients can be seen within 24 hours of making an appointment.

Our Neurologist

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