How Is Essential Tremor Characterized?

Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes rhythmical shaking that is worse with movement, explains Mayo Clinic. It usually affects the hands but can involve other body parts, such as the head, voice, tongue and legs, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The cause of the tremor is believed to be fluctuations in the brain that send aberrant signals to the body, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine. These signals travel to the muscles and cause them to shake during movement. The symptoms are aggravated by stress, fatigue, caffeine and temperature extremes.

The treatment of this disorder involves symptom reduction with non-medical and medical therapy, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Non-medical therapy includes the use of muscle weights, relaxation techniques, stress reduction, and avoidance of medication known to increase tremors.

Medical therapy is only used when the benefits of the medication outweigh the side effects, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine. Commonly used medication includes the primidone and propranolol, which is effective in as many as 40 to 50 percent of patients. Other drug therapy includes the use of benzodiazepines and botulinum toxin injections into the affected muscles.

Surgical intervention is considered when other therapy fails and the patient is severely impaired by the disorder, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. These procedures involve the creation of a brain lesion and deep brain stimulation.