Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes repetitive and involuntary shaking or trembling of the arms, legs, head, and trunk. It is the most common form of tremor disorder, but its cause is poorly understood. An estimated 7 million Americans are affected, and two-thirds of all cases occur in people over age 65.
The primary symptom of essential tremor is a frequently recurring, rhythmical movement of the hands or arms. Other symptoms may include a shaky voice and head or a trembling face, head, legs, and trunk. In severe cases, the tremors can interfere with daily activities such as eating, writing and drinking.
The exact cause of essential tremor is unknown. However, research suggests the disorder may be caused by a combination of several factors such as genetics, environmental influences, age-related changes in the brain and abnormalities of the cerebellum and its connections.
Essential tremor is diagnosed through physical examination, a medical history and rule out other forms of tremor. Blood tests, imaging and other tests are sometimes needed to rule out other conditions. Treatment options for essential tremor may include lifestyle changes, medications, medical device implants and, in severe cases, surgical treatments.
Lifestyle changes may include avoiding caffeine, avoiding or limiting alcohol, using relaxation techniques and exercise. Medications used to treat essential tremor may include beta-blockers, primidone and certain antidepressants. In severe cases, an implantable device may be used to help reduce the severity of the tremor. Surgery may be used in severe cases to improve muscle functions.
In conclusion, essential tremor is a common neurological disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking or trembling of the arms, legs, head and trunk. Its cause is poorly understood, but it is most common in people over age 65 and is believed to be influenced by a combination of factors. Diagnosis and treatment of essential tremor may include lifestyle changes, medications, medical device implants and, in severe cases, surgical treatments.
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