Tremors

One movement disorder that is particularly widespread is tremors. Tremors can result from a number of different health issues and their affects on the body can range from being relatively harmless to somewhat dangerous. Learn more about what causes tremors and the many types of tremors which can occur.

Definition

A tremor is an involuntary shaking of a part of the body. This shaking movement is often characterized as rhythmic, trembling or oscillating. The movement can take place in a particular body part (particularly the hands and arms) or it can affect the entire body. Even the voice or the head may be affected.

Types

There are several types of tremors, all of which can be categorized into three main categories:

  • Resting tremors: Also called static tremors, this type of tremor occurs when the muscles are at rest. Sometimes the tremor will go away or become less noticeable once the muscles involved are moved.
  • Intention tremors: These are also called kinetic tremors. This type of tremor happens at the end of an intended movement, like pressing a button or reaching for an object. Often, the tremor will subside when the affected part of the body is at rest.
  • Action tremors: Also known as postural tremors, these occur when you hold an arm or leg in a certain position for a length of time, such as holding a cup or writing.

In addition to these three main types of tremors, there are also more specific kinds of tremors that correspond to certain health conditions. Examples of these types of tremors include:

  • Parkinson’s tremor
  • Drug-induced tremor
  • Cerebellar tremor
  • Essential tremor
  • Physiologic tremor
  • Holmes’ tremor
  • Orthostatic tremor
  • Psychogenic tremor
  • Tremor due to systemic disease

To learn more about tremors in relation to specific health conditions, see What Body Tremors Can Tell You About Your Health.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a tremor vary widely depending on the type of tremor and the cause behind it. Some tremors last for seconds while others last much longer. The tremor may affect just a single part f the body or the entire body. It may lessen when the affected muscles are moved or put at rest. The only common symptom is the involuntary shaking or trembling of at least one body part.

It’s worth noting that tremors are often described as high-frequency or low-frequency. This refers to the rate at which the affected body parts shake, with slower tremors categorized as low-frequency and fast tremors categorized as high-frequency. As with other symptoms, the frequency varies widely depending on the type of tremor involved.

Causes And Risk Factors

There are numerous possible causes of tremors, including:

  • Stress, anxiety or fatigue
  • Muscle tiredness or weakness
  • Too much coffee or caffeine
  • Drugs and prescription medications
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal
  • Low blood sugar
  • Aging
  • Overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Disorders of the brain or nerves
  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke

The risk for certain types of tremors can increase with age. In addition, there are certain genetic mutations that people can have that make them more likely to develop tremors.

Prevention

Certain types of tremors can be prevented by maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. For example, doing things to reduce the amount of stress, anxiety and fatigue you experience can help prevent tremors from occurring. Methods for achieving this include meditating, exercising, doing breathing exercises, avoiding caffeine and getting plenty of sleep. Similarly, drinking alcohol in moderation can help prevent alcohol-related tremors from developing. For more tips on how to minimize stress, read 4 Natural Ways To Combat Stress.

Treatment

The treatments for tremors can change from one patient to the next depending on their personal circumstances. For instance, a medication-induced tremor may be cured by switching to a different drug. On the other hand, someone with stress-related tremors may need to adjust their lifestyle habits while another may need to have a brain tumor removed. In any case, the underlying cause of the tremors determines the treatment plans for the patient.

In some cases, however, medications can be prescribed to treat the tremors themselves. This is usually only considered as a treatment plan when the tremors cannot be relieved through treatment of the underlying cause. Medication options for treatment tremors directly may include tranquilizers, anti-seizure medications, Botox injections or beta blockers. In serious cases, physical therapy or surgery may be used to relieve or cure especially disabling tremors.

Tremors are relatively common, so if you or someone you know if experiencing them it’s possible that the cause is not serious. In many cases, tremors can be treated effectively through lifestyle changes, medications or treatment for the underlying cause. However, it’s important to see a doctor if you do notice that you are experiencing tremors in order to rule out other possible health conditions which could be more serious.

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