Essential tremors are a movement disorder that causes trembling hands as well as head movement, and difficulty speaking too. The condition affects people when they are trying to use their hands – rather than when their hands are at rest, as you would see in conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
Mild cases of essential tremor can often be ignored, as people can learn to work around them, but for more severe cases treatment is needed.
Drugs such as Inderal and InnoPran can help to reduce the symptoms, as can the anti-seizure medication primidone. These drugs work on different systems, and this means that there are two potential avenues for managing the symptoms. This is important because each of these medications can have serious side effects – between 30 and 50 percent of patients either fail to respond to one of the medications, or suffer from side effects so serious that they need to stop taking them.
There are some other drugs – including anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medications and anti-anxiety drugs which can be helpful for people who are suffering from Essential Tremors, but these are not usually the first choice.
Another option is surgical therapy. Deep brain stimulation with an electrical implant can help to reduce the symptoms of tremors, and can be a long-term cure. Another option, called unilateral thalamotomy, can help to reduce tremors as well, and again this is a long-term solution.
Doctors are reluctant to offer this surgery unless someone has shown that they are not able to tolerate drug based treatments, because of the risk of the surgery and the recovery time – but it is possible to use surgery to cure the tremors.
Before you consider this option, talk to your doctor and try other therapies – including simple herbal remedies like tremanol and physical therapy or mind-training exercises. In some cases, people get surprisingly good responses from these, and that means they get the ‘cure’ without the expense of drugs or the risk of infection and complications associated with surgery.
Severe tremors can be incredibly debilitating, but if you work with a good doctor you can get control of your muscles again, and get something like a normal life back. Don’t give up hope just because the first or second prescription medication that you are giving fails to offer the kind of lasting results that you were hoping for from it.