Distinguishing Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s Disease
While most people are familiar with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Essential Tremor (ET) is much less known, yet actually much more common1.
If you are experiencing shaking of your hands, a neurologist specializing in movement disorders will perform neurological testing to distinguish between these two conditions. The testing may include holding your arms straight out in front of your body, touching your finger to your nose, and drawing spirals on a piece of paper. This will enable the neurologist to evaluate the features of the tremor including frequency (number of repetitions per second) and amplitude (strength of tremor). If Parkinson’s Disease is suspected, then the neurologist may send you to do imaging scans as part of the diagnosis.
While only a qualified physician can provide a diagnosis, there are several key symptoms that differentiate essential tremor from other conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.Read the Blog
Get a Grip on Essential Tremor
Essential Tremor (ET) is a neurological condition that causes shaking of the hands, head and voice, but it can also cause legs and trunk to shake. Some people even have a feeling of internal tremor.
The cause of essential tremor is not fully understood, but clinical research has identified the Vim nucleus of the thalamus as the spot in the brain which can be targeted to treat the tremor. The thalamus is a structure deep in the brain that coordinates and controls motor activity as well as other functions.Learn More
Parkinson’s Disease and Tremors
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative disorder which results from the malfunction and/or loss of brain cells responsible for movement and coordination. Key symptoms include tremor, rigidity, slow movement (bradykinesia) and postural instability.
In an estimated up to 26% of PD patients, the primary symptom is tremor2. These patients initially have tremor and as the disease progresses, they may experience onset of other symptoms like bradykinesia and rigidity. But, many patients report that tremor remains the symptom with the most severe impact on their daily activities.3Learn More
2Grosset, D. (2009). Clinical diagnosis of parkinsonism and tremor. In M. Okun, K. Grosset, H. Fernandez, D. Grosset (Eds.), Parkinson’s Disease: Clinican’s Desk Reference (pp. 33). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.