Body tremors are involuntary movements of the muscles. They are repetitive motions and can present themselves as twitching or rhythmic shaking. The movement is unintentional and of all involuntary movements, tremors are the most common. Although they usually affect an individual’s head, hands and arms, they can sometimes occur in other areas of the body such as the trunk or feet. Tremors are not life-threatening, but they can make it difficult for individuals to perform simple, every-day tasks.
Tremor symptoms are shaky, rhythmic movements of different parts of the body. Other symptoms can include a shaky voice, difficulty holding a pen, an unsteady hand when trying to write and difficulty eating. Other symptoms can vary depending on the type of tremors.
When body tremors develop while the muscle is relaxed, it is known as Resting Tremor. This is usually seen in the hands as they are resting near the trunk while standing. Tremors that occur during movement are known as Action Tremors. Action Tremors can occur in any part of the body as it is being unconsciously moved, such as when the leg is lifted to walk. It can also occur in the limbs as they are being outstretched, or in body parts that are being moved consciously, such as when touching a finger to the nose during a medical exam.
Tremors can affect individuals of any age, but they are more common among middle-aged people and the elderly. Body tremors occur equally among men and women and can be a temporary condition that disappears after some time, can occur occasionally, or can come and go intermittently.
A doctor will perform a complete physical examination. During the exam, the doctor will be able to identify if the body tremors are triggered by movement or if they occur while at rest. The doctor will perform basic neurological tests to check for weakness, muscle atrophy and problems with reflexes. Your doctor will take a detailed family history to rule out hereditary conditions. Laboratory tests will be ordered to check your blood and urine for abnormalities in your thyroid function and your metabolism. A chemical screen will be ordered to check for higher than normal levels of certain chemicals, such as arsenic and mercury, which are known to cause tremors. Your doctor will evaluate the results of your physical and determine if additional tests, such as MRI or CT Scan are required.
While there is no cure for body tremors, there are treatments available that may be able to help control symptoms. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is crucial. Once the underlying cause is discovered, your doctor will be able to determine what kinds of treatment, if any, may help get your tremors under control.
Depending on the underlying cause, some Tremors will respond well to treatment of the underlying condition. Tremors that do not disappear after a few days could signal a serious underlying condition and should be checked by your health care practitioner.