Tremor: An Overview

Tremor is the unintentional, rhythmic, oscillatory movement of any body part. It is one of the most common symptoms observed in neurological disorders. Tremor is involuntary and can involve the hands, arms, head, vocal cords, torso, and legs, and most commonly affects one side of the body.

Tremor may be present at rest or may occur with movement. It typically occurs in elastic, swinging rhythms that range from 4 to 12 cycles per second; these are referred to as resting or resting tremor. Postural tremor, which is more common than resting tremor, develops when a body part is supported against gravity.

Tremor is often associated with other neurological signs and symptoms, such as rigidity, slowness of movement, abnormal gait, and difficulty with speech. It can also be accompanied by a range of physical and psychological issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression.

Types of Tremor

  • Essential tremor – This is the most common type of tremor, and is a movement disorder of the hands and/or head. It is characterized by shaking of the hands or arms during voluntary activities.
  • Physiologic tremor – This is a normal, healthy tremor that happens in response to external or environmental triggers, such as stress, fear, fatigue, or extreme temperatures.
  • Dystonic tremor – This is an abnormal, repetitive movement caused by involuntary muscle contractions. It is usually seen in patients with dystonia, a neurological disorder.
  • Parkinsonian tremor – This is an irregular, oscillatory tremor seen in patients with Parkinson's Disease, which is a neurodegenerative disorder.
  • Cerebellar tremor – This is a rhythmic movement disorder caused by damage to the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination and balance.
  • Orthostatic tremor – This is a tremor that occurs when a person stands up from a seated or reclined position. It typically occurs in the lower legs and feet.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Tremor is often diagnosed through a physical examination, patient history, laboratory tests, and imaging scans. Treatment is tailored to the type of tremor and its underlying cause, and may include medications, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, or, in some cases, surgery. It is important to consult a physician if tremor symptoms are present, as early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the impact of the condition.