Essential tremor (ET) is a neurological condition that most commonly causes a rhythmic trembling of the hands while performing a task such as eating, writing, dressing or drinking, or when holding a posture such as arms outstretched in front of the body. The tremor also can affect the head, voice, legs and trunk.
While there is no known cause, ET is thought to be related to abnormal functioning of the part of the brain called the cerebellum or a chemical in the brain called GABA.
The following are some common ET characteristics that distinguish it from Parkinson’s:
Another differentiating factor is that dopamine is low in individuals with Parkinson’s, but not in those with ET. A special scan can be performed that measures the uptake of dopamine to arrive at a diagnosis in complicated cases.
The International Essential Tremor Foundation (essentialtremor.org) provides helpful information you can share with your patients.
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