Celebrate National Essential Tremor Awareness Month
March 18, 2021
Do your mother’s hands shake? Have you asked her doctor about underlying medical conditions that could explain it? Has that doctor been able to rule out any major reasons that could explain the tremor?
If so, she has what is called an “essential tremor.” As essential tremor can involve not only the hands, but also shaking of the head and legs. March is National Essential Tremor Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to learn more about essential tremors.
Essential tremors might as well be called “mystery tremors.” That’s because science hasn’t really gotten to the bottom of why some people have shaky hands. In some cases, tremors are hereditary. In other cases, they show up after a traumatic injury such as a car accident. They can also show up for no apparent reason at all, especially in people over forty.
This type of tremor is usually worse on one side of the body. It gets worse if the patient is stressed out, hungry, or cold.
A mild tremor, that doesn’t present a challenge to the daily activities of life, may be more of a social embarrassment than anything else.
In many cases, mild tremors can be managed by avoiding stress, alcohol, and excessive caffeine. If the tremor continues to be disruptive, a doctor may prescribe beta blockers, botox injections, or an anti-seizure medication. If the tremor is linked to anxiety, anti-anxiety medications can be helpful.
Exercise can also help people with a mild essential tremor. A physical therapist can recommend a regime, often one that involves wearing wrist weights.
A tremor may require more aggressive treatment if it interferes with daily tasks like holding a glass of water without spilling it, writing legibly, and speaking so as to be understood. To determine the severity of a tremor, a doctor may administer a few painless tests. One of the most common tests asks the patient to draw a spiral, starting in the middle of a piece of paper and circling outward.
Someone with a severe tremor may need surgery. There is good news on the treatment front because a new surgical procedure, specifically for tremor, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This procedure is called “focussed ultrasound treatment.”
This treatment sends ultrasound beams into the ventral intermediate nucleus, a section of the brain that is responsible for the tremors. It is a non-invasive treatment with immediate results. The recovery period is quite short. Patients typically get back to their lives the next day.
Home care can definitely help a senior with essential tremor. Home care aides can get a good sense of whether a tremor is serious enough to need medical treatment. These home care professionals also help out by providing transportation to and from doctor’s offices for diagnosis and treatment.
In conclusion, essential tremor is one of life’s mysteries, but there is an array of treatments for both mild and severe cases. It is important to rule out underlying causes for the tremor, especially Parkinson’s disease. But essential tremor affects many people and it is ultimately one of the more treatable consequences of old age.
If you or your loved one is looking for Home Care in Los Gatos, CA, please call Familiar Surroundings Home Care.
Santa Clara County: (408) 979-9990
San Mateo County: (650) 353-9777
Santa Cruz County: (831) 480-3990