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What is Physiologic Tremor?
Physiologic tremor is defined as a normal action, present in both children and adults. Usually, the oscillating movement of any body part is hardly noticeable to the naked eye. Physiologic tremor is observable when enhanced by strenuous activity, exhaustion, stress, excitement or fear.
Example of Enhanced Physiologic Tremor (EPT)
Tyler Hamilton’s hands trembled and shook after completing Stage 5 of the 2003 Tour de France. He needed both hands to lift a beverage to his lips. The American cyclist experienced EPT from riding 123 miles over hills. After fifteen minutes of rest, the twitching in his hands slowly dissipated, and Tyler Hamilton gingerly signed autographs for his fans.
What is Essential Tremor?
Unlike EPT, essential tremor is a repetitive involuntary movement, which causes parts of the body (hands, arms, head, voice) to tremor, even in the absence of the physiological activity that enhanced Tyler Hamilton’s hands to tremble. Essential tremor can appear in more than one body part at the same time, marked by bilateral symmetry.
Essential tremor is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder that can occur at any age, including birth. Essential tremor does not discriminate. Males and females are affected equally.
At present, there is no known cure for essential tremor. Generally, treatment for essential tremor is: medications (beta-blockers, anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines), Botulinum Toxin injections (Botox) and Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (DBS). Therapy varies with each individual.
Effectiveness of therapy can be less than optimal. Essential tremor can worsen, leaving people disabled, unable to perform life’s daily activities. Essential tremor can affect employment.
Even though the cause of essential tremor is not clearly defined, the identification of gene loci mapped to chromosomes in studies with a few families, exemplify that genetics may be considered in establishing the cause of essential tremor. Admittedly, more studies are needed to substantiate possible connections to the cause.
“A disease known is half-cured.”
Who does Essential Tremor Affect?
Essential tremor may affect up to six percent of the general, multi-racial population. Nearly ten million Americans live with essential tremor, ten times the number of approximately one million people afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease.