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Essential Tremor Vs Parkinson’s Disease

Symptoms Of Essential Tremor

Beyond Tremors: Essential Tremor vs. Parkinson’s Disease

Essential tremor symptoms begin gradually and are usually more prominent on one side of the body. Often, ET patients notice that the shaking will worsen with movement.

The tremors usually begin in a patients hands, affecting one or both hands, then spread to other parts of the body. Parts of the body affected by essential tremor include the legs, arms, head, and voice.

Essential tremor causes involuntary movements in the larynx , throat, tongue, and vocal folds. These involuntary movements cause an essential tremor patients voice to tremble, fluctuate in volume, or otherwise be hindered in terms of vocal sound production.

Comparison Between Patients With And Without Et History Before And After Weighting

Before weighting, the standardized mean differences values were greater than 0.1 in Body Mass Index , sex distribution, age, age of onset of PD, LEDD, levodopa use, dopamine agonist use, UPDRS part III score, motor subtypes, Hoehn and Yahr stage, Frontal Assessment Battery score, Montreal Cognitive Assessment score, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score, and Non-Motor Symptoms Scale score between patients with and without ET history .

Table 1 Demographic and baseline clinical features between PD patients with and without a positive ET history.

A total of 17 covariates at baseline including education, BMI, sex, age, age of onset of PD, disease duration of PD, LEDD, levodopa use, dopamine agonist use, BMI, motor subtypes, UPDRS III score, H& Y stage, MoCA score, FAB score, HDRS score, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale score, and NMSS score were included for estimating the propensity score . After weighting, the SMD values of each variable at baseline were reduced. No SMD values were> 0.1, suggesting there was a well between-group balance on baseline characteristics after weighting .

Distinguishing Essential Tremor And Parkinsons Disease

While most people are familiar with Parkinsons Disease , Essential Tremor is much more common1.

If you are experiencing shaking of your hands, a neurologist specializing in movement disorders can perform testing to diagnose your condition. This may include holding your arms straight out in front of your body, touching your finger to your nose, and drawing spirals on a piece of paper. Additional testing or imaging scans may also be required as part of the diagnosis.

While only a qualified physician can provide a diagnosis, there are several key symptoms that differentiate Essential Tremor from other conditions such as Parkinsons Disease.

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What Causes Essential Tremors

It is generally accepted that tremor is caused when problems arise in the thalamus, which is the structure of the brain that is responsible for coordinating and controlling muscle activity. However, at this time, researchers and medical professionals are not exactly certain what causes essential tremor.

Researchers are currently analyzing changes in specific chromosomes that have been linked to the development of essential tremor, but there have been no confirmed genetic connections as of yet.

In patients with a family history of ET, the specific manner in which essential tremor is inherited can vary. Most of the time, ET is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means that one altered copy of a gene can cause essential tremor. However, this inheritance pattern is not found in other families with ET, making it an unclear and unconfirmed connection to family history and genetics.

Can Essential Tremor Increase The Risk For Other Illnesses


Essential tremor is linked to other illnesses. Other movement disorders, such as Parkinsons disease, have been associated with ET. Some reports have linked ET with migraine headaches. People with ET may also be at high risk of having dementia .

Drugs that treat essential tremor may also make you more likely to become depressed.

Some experts think thereâs no increased risk for Parkinsons disease for people with ET. Instead, some people diagnosed with ET may be incorrectly diagnosed at first and later turn out to have Parkinsons.

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Do I Have Parkinsons Disease Or An Essential Tremor

2 Minute Read

Medically Reviewed by UPMC Susquehanna

While you may be familiar with Parkinsons disease, essential tremor is much less known, yet much more commoneight times more common, in fact.

Parkinsons disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system noticeable by resting tremor, balance issues, muscular rigidity, and slow movement. It typically affects middle-aged and elderly people. In addition to motor symptoms, Parkinsons patients can also experience depression, sleep disorders, loss of smell, constipation. In Parkinson plus syndrome, patients can also have autonomic dysfunction, cognitive impairment, and hallucinations. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinsons disease every year. The cause of Parkinsons disease is unknown.

Essential tremor is one of the most common movement disorders in the world that seems to strike people over age 40. It is a progressive condition which starts with an uncontrollable movement of the hands when trying to reach something. Essential tremor can happen in the vocal cords, the head, and the legs. Even the early stages, essential tremor can make life difficult. You may have trouble writing, holding things, putting key to the lock, and preforming fine movement in your job. Tremor can stop after drinking alcohol. Essential tremor is believed to be caused by a genetic mutation can be inherited.

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If It Is Not Essential Tremor What Could It Be

Tremors can be caused by a variety of other conditions or lifestyle factors. What separates them is the timing of the tremor. It is important to know if the tremors occur at rest, with sustained posture, or with certain movements.

  • Drugs. There are several drugs that can cause tremor:
  • Certain antidepressants like Paxil®, Prozac®, Zoloft®, Pamelor®, and others.
  • Resting tremors can be caused by certain medications, Parkinsons disease, or other conditions including multiple sclerosis and stroke.
  • Tremors that change with posture or movement can occur in people with low blood sugar, drug withdrawal, thyroid problems, Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
  • Demographic And Clinical Characteristics

    How to distinguish Parkinson’s disease from Essential Tremor – New Day Northwest

    Essential tremor and PD patients were similar in age, gender, education, handedness, caffeine intake, and use of medications with potential tremor-inducing properties . As expected, ET patients had longer tremor duration and were less likely to have undergone deep brain stimulation surgery than PD patients . ET patients also exhibited more severe tremor than PD patients in their Archimedes spiral drawings .

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    What Is The Difference Between Tremors And Parkinson’s Disease

    While the majority of Parkinson’s patients experience tremors,not everyone who has tremors has Parkinson’s. Tremors are also asymptom of other conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, certainmedicines, alcohol poisoning or anxiety.

    Tremor is an unintentional, rhythmic musclecontraction that leads to shaking in one or more parts of thebody. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes tremors,stiffness in limbs and loss of coordination.

    The most significant difference between tremor associated withParkinson’s disease and tremor associated with other conditions is thatParkinson’s tremor is typically a “resting tremor,” meaning it ispresent when an individual is at rest and goes away when the individual isactive. Tremors in most other conditions are classified as “actiontremor,” meaning shaking increases when a person is active and decreaseswhen the person is at rest.

    While Parkinson’s is typically the most widely-known disease associatedwith tremor, a condition called essential tremor is more common, affectingapproximately 5% of people aged 65 and older.

    Misperception #: Bradykinesia = Pd

    Bradykinesia is a cardinal sign of PD. Although bradykinesia is not traditionally associated with ET, there have been several studies that report the contrary. One study quantified rapid alternating pronation-supination movements in 10 ET cases, 20 mild to moderate PD cases and 10 controls . Post hoc analysis demonstrated that rapid alternating movement cycle duration was statistically longer in ET cases compared with controls, and similar to PD cases . Another study, involving 61 ET cases and 122 controls, evaluated performance in four timed tests involving hand movements, as well as walking and visual reaction time . ET cases compared with controls had longer mean finger tapping times and mean visual reaction times . Another study reported reduced arm swing in 18/136 clinically diagnosed ET cases . While a small proportion of ET cases may exhibit slower movement times than controls, a reduction in amplitude and cessation of movement during rapid successive movements has not been demonstrated in ET.

    Clinical pearl #6: Slower movement times may be observed in some patients with ET, yet other features of bradykinesia have not been demonstrated in ET.

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    What Is The Difference Between Essential Tremor Andparkinsons

    The exact cause of essential tremor is unknown while Parkinsonâsdisease is better understood.

    In Parkinsonâs disease, neurons located in the part of the brain thatcontrols movement become impaired or die. These neurons usually produce achemical called dopamine which enables regular body movements. When the neuronscanât produce necessary levels of dopamine, tremors can occur, along withrigidity of limbs and decreased coordination.

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    What You Need To Know

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    • Essential tremor disorder is a neurological condition that causes your hands to shake rhythmically. The head, trunk and voice might also be involved, but hand shaking is most prominent. The cause is not known, but it is often passed down from a parent to a child.
    • Essential tremor is sometimes confused with other types of tremor, so getting the right diagnosis is important.
    • Tremors tend to be worse during movement than when at rest. The tremors can be disabling and can slowly worsen over time.
    • Some things might make tremors worse, and avoiding them may be helpful. Medicines can also help control or limit tremors in some people. Severe tremors can sometimes be treated with surgery.

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    Bedside Examination: Distinguishing Et From Pd

    Although the aforementioned diagnostic criteria attempt to clearly delineate ET from PD, it is not uncommon for patients with ET to exhibit PD signs and, conversely, for patients with PD to exhibit ET signs. This overlapping of neurological signs is a source of diagnostic uncertainty. Clinicians should both be aware of this potential for overlap and look for the specific features that point to the correct diagnosis of ET or PD. Below, we address a number of common clinical misperceptions about these two diseases these misperceptions fuel the diagnostic confusion. In doing so, we will review the neurological findings classically associated with PD and ET, as well as the subtle findings on examination that help to further distinguish the two disorders.

    Rest Vs Postural Vs Action Tremor

    A tremor is defined as movement of a body part that oscillates rhythmically around a midpoint.

    When deciding whether a tremor is consistent with a diagnosis of PD, the most important feature is the position of the body part in which the tremor occurs. There are three main positions to consider.

    Rest tremor

    A rest tremor occurs when a body part is not being held against gravity and is not moving. Rest tremors occur for example, when the hands are resting in the lap, such as when watching television, or when the arms are dangling at the side when walking.

    Postural tremor

    A postural tremor occurs when a body part is held against gravity. Postural tremors occur for example, when the arms are extended, such as when holding a tray.

    Kinetic tremor

    A kinetic tremor occurs when a body part is moving. Kinetic tremors occur for example, when the arm is moving toward the mouth to eat.

    Parkinsons tremors classically occur at two characteristic times. One is at rest. The other is when the limb is moved and then held against gravity. The tremor tends to stop during the movement and then resume in the new posture. This is referred to as a re-emergent tremor.

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    How Is Essential Tremor Diagnosed

    The appearance of your tremor, in the setting of a comprehensive neurological examination by an experienced clinician, can result in diagnosis of essential tremor. Your doctor will probably need to rule out other conditions that could cause shaking or trembling. For example, tremors could be symptoms of diseases such as hyperthyroidism. Your health care provider might test you for those as well.

    In some cases, the tremors might be related to other factors. To find out for certain, your health care provider may have you try to:

    • Abstain from heavy alcohol use trembling is a common symptom among people with alcohol use disorder.
    • Avoid caffeine.
    • Avoid or reduce certain medicines.

    Clinical Impression : Proximal Vs Distal Postural Tremor

    What is the difference between Essential tremor and Parkinson Disease tremor?

    On arm extension, a higher proportion of ET than PD patients had isolated proximal tremor whereas a higher proportion of PD than ET patients had isolated distal tremor . There were similar differences when isolated proximal and distal tremors were defined liberally . Even when tremor was present in multiple joints, it was more prominent in the proximal joints in ET patients compared to PD patients . Furthermore, relative to PD, tremor in ET involved the wrist more than distal hand joints . When we excluded 28 PD patients who had taken carbidopa/levodopa within 4 h of the clinical examination, the results were similar. Even when we excluded 39 PD patients who had taken carbidopa/levodopa within 12 h of the examination, the results were similar . We did not perform similar analyses that excluded ET patients who had taken their medications on the day of testing, as there is less of a clear acute timed effect of these medications on motor state.

    Table 3. ET vs. PD Main measures with patients removed who took carbidopa/levodopa within 12 h of exam.

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    Not All People With Essential Tremor Need Treatment

    For roughly one-third of people with essential tremor, their symptoms are mild enough that no treatment is necessary. Another third have symptoms that are only bothersome when they are in high stress situations, such as having to give a speech in front of a room full of strangers. These people only need sporadic treatment, for those times when their tremor is going to be particularly debilitating, says Weintraub. The last third have essential tremor thats severe enough that they need treatment in order to be able to function in their daily lives.

    Clinical Situation #: Et Or Et+pd

    Clinical summary

    A 40-year-old woman with a family history of ET develops a kinetic tremor and, a few years later, a postural head tremor. Her tremor worsens considerably such that she has severe and debilitating tremor by the age of 65 years. At 70 years of age, she also develops a tremor at rest with no other features of parkinsonism.

    This patient likely only has ET with isolated rest tremor, a feature that can develop in ET cases with longstanding and severe disease.

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    Essential Vs Parkinsons Disease: Similar But Different

    The primary symptom of essential tremor is shaking, often in the hands, which means many misunderstand the signs of essential tremor vs. Parkinsons disease.

    Those dealing with essential tremor often withdraw from public activities due to the embarrassment resulting from tremor-induced messiness and shaking.

    This seclusion, combined with the relatively small amount of media coverage regarding essential tremor, means that individuals and physicians often misdiagnose essential tremor as being Parkinsons disease. Research shows that the misdiagnosis rate in essential tremor studies ranged between 37% and 50% .

    A Tremor Doesnt Always Mean Its Parkinsons

    45 best images about Having Essential tremors on Pinterest

    Many people think of Parkinsons disease as the tremor disease, so much so, that when a tremor is noticed, the first diagnosis people typically think of is PD. Although about 25% of people with PD do not have tremor, 75% of them do, so tremor is certainly a very visible and characteristic symptom of PD.

    However, there are many other medical conditions that can cause a tremor. Today, we will discuss the features of various tremors, other medical conditions that can manifest with tremor, and the clues that distinguish a PD tremor from other types of tremor.

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    Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease And Essential Tremor

    The differences between Parkinsons and an essential tremor include:

    • Tremors are mostly seen when the body is at rest in Parkinsons disease.
    • Tremors occur at a higher frequency and when trying to reach things in essential tremor.
    • Both start on one side of the body, commonly in the hands. Some Parkinson plus syndrome starts on both hands.
    • Essential tremors can be seen in other family members 50% of the time.
    • Tremors in head and voice are more common in essential tremor.
    • Other symptoms can be seen in Parkinsons patients including stiffness, balance issues, gait issues, and slowed movements.
    • Parkinsons patients often experience a change in handwriting which makes the letters very small, while essential tremor handwriting gets large and quivery.

    There are also other causes for tremors, such as: medication induced tremors, vascular tremors, and metabolic associated tremors. The diagnosis is made based on a complete medical history and physical exam, sometimes with the help of lab and imaging tests, by a neurologist. It is important to write down the symptoms you are having and be as specific as possible so you can share the details with your doctor.

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    Confusion With Essential Tremor

    The tremor of Parkinsons disease is often confused with the tremor of a condition called Essential Tremor, or Benign Familial Tremor. Katherine Hepburn had Essential Tremor, and was originally misdiagnosed with Parkinsons. Ronald Reagan, also, had Essential Tremor. Both had a head tremor and a vocal tremor. With Essential Tremor, the hands are most commonly involved, followed by the head and then the voice. Essential Tremor can cause the jaw to tremor, and it may be difficult to figure out if a jaw tremor is from Essential Tremor or Parkinsons. Unfortunately, some people may have both disorders. Some authorities believe that there is, in fact, an increased association between the two conditions, so that more people with Parkinsons disease have Essential Tremor than would be expected by chance alone, but this has not been established.

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