Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders, affecting up to 10 million persons in the United States. It can affect persons of any age, although it is most common with advancing age. The primary symptom of ET is tremor, which occurs when the body part is in motion (kinetic tremor) such as while drinking, eating, shaving, writing, typing, dressing, etc. or when the body part is held against gravity (postural tremor) such as when the arms are outstretched in front of the body. The tremor generally affects both sides of the body and is most common in the hands/arms but can also occur in the head, voice, trunk and legs. Handwriting is generally large and tremulous in contrast to PD where handwriting is often very small (micrographia). The majority of persons with ET have a family history of tremor. The tremor can range in severity with some persons having mild tremor that does not interfere with daily activities and does not need treatment to severe tremor which makes daily activities such as eating, drinking, dressing, shaving, writing, typing, etc. nearly impossible to complete. ET does not respond to the same drugs used for PD. The most common treatments for ET include primidone (Mysoline) and propranolol (Inderal). Deep brain stimulation is also an option for those with ET whose symptoms are resistant to medications.
For more information on ET please visit the International Essential Tremor Foundation.