Essential tremor can be a challenging and progressive journey. Know the options and find relief at every step.
Essential tremor (ET) is a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking that can have severe, negative impacts on a person’s quality of life. It affects 10 million Americans of all ages,1 though it most commonly affects those 40 and older.2 ET can limit your ability to do everyday activities, such as signing your name, drinking a glass of water, or brushing your teeth.2 ET can also impact how you work, enjoy your hobbies, and interact with family and loved ones. However, if you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms or suspect they may have ET, there may be options to find sustained relief. ET is a difficult journey but there is a road map to help you along the way.
ET is a difficult journey but there is a road map to help you along the way.
Identify and Monitor Your Symptoms
Many people attribute their tremor to other factors such as aging. It may be hard to recognize exactly what are and are not signs of ET, but there are resources that can help you understand the symptoms so that you can be as informed as possible. Once you have an understanding, keeping track of your symptoms or those of your loved one’s can help determine the severity of the impact on daily life.
Common Symptoms include:
- Inability to perform daily tasks due to a tremor
- Large and shaky handwriting
- Tremor worsens when you feel stress or fatigue
Did You Know
One of the early signs of ET is switching the hand you use to do daily tasks, such as brushing your teeth, due to the tremor in your dominant hand? 2
“What started as a slight shake progressed, and eventually I had trouble writing my name and signing checks. Something had to be done, so I went looking for answers.”
Get a Diagnosis
Once you have identified a pattern of symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it is time to talk to a qualified doctor to get an official diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis can be daunting, but once you have one, you can move forward and explore treatment options that can provide relief from the advancement of ET.
Some steps to getting a diagnosis include:
- Reviewing your symptoms
- Recording the frequency and severity of the symptoms you experience
- Scheduling an appointment with a qualified doctor, such as a movement disorder neurologist
Did You Know
Many patients report one of the most frustrating side effects of ET is an inability to engage in their favorite hobbies, such as baking, sewing, or painting?
“You don’t have to be afraid; you don’t have to suffer — just go to your doctor.”
Know Your Options
The challenges that ET patients face are not one-size-fits-all. Many factors go into choosing what the best treatment option is for you, and the best way to make that decision is to be informed about all options and to consult with your healthcare team.
Some potential treatment options include:
- Non-surgical therapies
- Incisionless, MR-guided focused ultrasound
- Deep Brain Stimulation
Did You Know
Did you know that people with ET may withdraw from social life and may increase alcohol consumption as methods of coping? 2
“I came to the point in my life where I thought if there’s anything I can do on my part, I should do it.”
Find Your Community
When you or a loved one are experiencing ET, you are never alone with the physical or mental toll. Though the mental impact of ET can be less visible, it is a very real part of the journey. Know that there are other people on every step of the difficult ET journey who have formed amazing and supportive communities that you can find and join.
Tell Us About Yourself. Are You:
1. Essential Tremor Facts. International Essential Tremor Foundation. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.essentialtremor.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/FactSheet062019.pdf
2. Essential tremor. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/essential-tremor/symptoms-causes/syc-20350534
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The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always discuss treatment options and treatment outcomes with your physician or other qualified health provider.