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What’s The Difference Between Essential Tremors And Parkinson’s Disease

What Is The Difference Between Tremors And Parkinson’s Disease

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

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.

Diagnosing Parkinsons Vs Essential Tremor

The difference between essential tremor and Parkinsons can be so slight that it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose these conditions correctly. In fact, they are often mistaken for one another, which can be frustrating for physicians and patients alike. Specialty physicians that diagnose and treat these conditions are Movement Disorder Neurologists.

While there are no official tests for either condition, there are several diagnostic techniques that physicians employ to attempt properly diagnose essential tremor vs. Parkinsons, including:

  • Physical examination: During a physical examination, a physician evaluates the patients motor skills to help in their determination of whether they suffer from essential tremor vs. Parkinsons.
  • DaTscan: During a DaTscan, a radioactive tracer is injected, which makes its way into the brain, where it attaches to dopamine transporters. Special imaging scans are then conducted to see whether the dopamine system is healthy. If it is irregular, it may help diagnose your condition as Parkinsons.
  • Handwriting sample evaluation: A doctor may be able to differentiate Parkinsons vs. essential tremor using a handwriting sample because those with Parkinsons typically exhibit exceptionally small handwriting, whereas those with ET exhibit larger, shaky handwriting.

What Are The Similarities Of Essential Tremor And Parkinsons Disease

The most significant similarity between essential tremor and Parkinsons disease is their characteristic symptom: the presence of tremors. Both conditions are movement disorders with tremor as the primary symptom.

In both essential tremor and Parkinsons disease, tremors are most common in the hands. With essential tremor, people may also experience head and voice tremors. In Parkinsons, however, tremors can also be in the jaw or tongue, but almost never involve a persons head or voice. In rare cases, essential tremor and Parkinsons can also affect someones legs.

Tremors in both Parkinsons disease and essential tremor both worsen during periods of high stress. Stressful situations can also result in more severe shaking or cause shaking in parts of the body that are not usually affected by tremors.

Both conditions and their symptoms can interfere with daily life, though the extent to which a person is affected may depend on the severity of their tremors. Larger, more grand tremors can make everyday tasks difficult and have a negative effect on a persons quality of life.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Essential Tremor

The key symptom of essential tremor is shaking usually your hands when youre trying to use them. That shaking can take different forms and usually happens under certain circumstances. The forms and circumstances where tremors are likely include:

  • Action tremor: This is a form of essential tremor that happens during actions, such as reaching for an object.
  • Postural tremor: This is shaking that happens when you hold part of your body in a specific pose, such as holding a hand outstretched and keeping it at the same height.

Essential tremor almost always affects both sides of your body but often affects one side more than the other. In addition to your hands, tremors can affect other parts of your body such as your head, voice, face and trunk.

The tremor itself isn’t dangerous, but it can cause problems with everyday activities as the condition worsens. Eventually, people with essential tremor may have trouble with activities such as eating with utensils and drinking from a glass, dressing themselves and writing.

Essential tremor gets better or worse under certain circumstances. Examples include:

May help tremors
Electrolyte, thyroid or blood sugar problems.

Tremor terms

When healthcare providers diagnose essential tremor, they analyze the way the tremors happen. Two key components of tremors are their frequency and their amplitude. The following example explains these terms and what they look like in a hand tremor:

How Are Tremors And Dyskinesia Experienced By Caregivers

9 Fundamental Differences Between Parkinson√Ęs Disease and Essential ...

People with Parkinsons disease can experience their condition much differently than do their caregivers or spouses. Sometimes being in the off state looks more comfortable to the caregiver because the person is still, and can even seem kind of calm, says Herrington. But for the person with Parkinsons, they experience that off state as very uncomfortable. They may describe it as feeling trapped because they want to move but and they cant.

In this case, he continues, the person might say, Look, I know I have dyskinesia, but I prefer being free to move than feeling stuck and trapped. The caregiver, however, may feel bothered by the increased movement, he says, and think that the person is taking too much medication.

There can be a real disconnect there between what the patient would want and what the caregiver might think is best, says Herrington. Its not always the best thing to try to get rid of every last bit of dyskinesia, because the person might be less comfortable in that state.

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Understanding The Basics Of A Tremor And How It Affects The Body

Characteristically occurring at rest, the classic slow, rhythmic tremor of Parkinsons disease typically starts in one hand, foot, or leg and can eventually affect both sides of the body.

The resting tremor of Parkinsons disease can also occur in the jaw, chin, mouth, or tongue. In addition, some people with Parkinsons disease can experience a feeling of internal tremor, which is not necessarily noticeable to others. Tremor is very common in Parkinsons. It affects about 80% of people with Parkinsons. Although many lay people, and even those with Parkinsons disease themselves, think of tremor as being the main problem in Parkinsons, it isnt for most. For most people with Parkinsons, tremor is not debilitating.

However, a tremor is annoying. It also attracts attention, so that people tend to keep their bad hand in a pocket, or to sit on it during conferences. Since it disappears with movement, it turns out that tremor does not interfere severely with activities of daily living.

Summary Essential Tremor Vs Parkinsons Disease

Essential tremor is a neurological disease with autosomal dominant inheritance, which primarily characterizes the development of bilateral, low amplitude tremor whereas Parkinsons disease is a movement disorder characterizes a decline in the dopamine level of the brain. Essential tremors have an autosomal dominant inheritance, but Parkinsons disease does not have such a genetic predisposition. This is the main difference between essential tremors and Parkinsons disease.


1. Kumar, Parveen J., and Michael L. Clark. Kumar & Clark clinical medicine. Edinburgh: W.B. Saunders, 2012. Print. Ser. 8.

Image Courtesy:

1.8376271918 by _DJ_ via Flickr2.Writing by a Parkinsons disease patientBy Jean-Martin Charcot via Commons Wikimedia

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What Is A Tremor And What Makes It Different With Parkinsons

Tremor is an uncontrollable, rhythmic muscle contraction that triggers quivering in one or more parts of the body. It often occurs in hands, arms, or legs but can also affect the head, neck, or torso. This shaking may appear in sporadic spells or continue constantly.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that age is a risk factor middle-aged and older adults are more likely to experience tremors.

How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better And How Long Does It Take To Recover

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

The recovery time from the various treatments depends on many factors, especially the treatments themselves. The best source of information about your situation is your healthcare provider because they can consider all the factors and give you information thats relevant to your specific case and circumstances.

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Parkinson’s Vs Essential Tremor: The Timing Of The Tremor

Parkinson’s patients most commonly experience tremors when they’re “at rest”, meaning they’re not currently doing anything else with the part of the body in question. The tremor will come to an end when you start doing something else with your hand, leg, or wherever else the tremor is like simply moving it.

People with Essential Tremor, meanwhile, primarily experience tremors when they are active and moving these are called action tremors. Somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of people with Essential Tremor also do experience rest tremors, however, so having those doesn’t necessarily mean you have Parkinson’s. Where ET patients do have rest tremors, they’re more likely to strike the arm. This isn’t true for people living with Parkinson’s disease, who can have rest tremors in varied body parts.

Are Tremors Or Dyskinesias Painful

Tremors are almost never painful, says Herrington. And unless the dyskinesias are very severe, they also hardly ever cause pain.

However, Herrington says that when a persons medication wears off, the person can experience a condition called dystonia, which is related to dyskinesia. Dystonia is a potentially painful, cramping condition that can occur in the face, arms, or legs and can be very uncomfortable.

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Next Steps: Getting Care For Parkinsons And Essential Tremor

If you believe you have Parkinsons disease or essential tremor, dont hesitate to seek professional care. Your doctor can help you diagnose your condition, find the right treatment plan for you, and manage your symptoms so you can enjoy the best quality of life possible. While suffering from a condition like essential tremor or Parkinsons can be frightening, you dont have to face it on your own.

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How Is Essential Tremor Treated And Is There A Cure

50+ Essential Tremor Vs Parkinsons

Theres no cure for essential tremor, but there are ways to treat it. The main treatment options are medications, assistive devices, botulinum toxin, deep brain stimulation and focused ultrasound. Your healthcare provider may recommend deep brain stimulation or focused ultrasound if other treatments arent enough to help your tremors.

  • Medication: The most common medications, taken either on their own or in combination, to treat essential tremor are beta-blockers like propranolol and anti-seizure drugs like primidone.
  • Adaptive devices: Many devices have been developed to improve tremor control, such as weighted items, tremor-canceling devices, vibration devices and peripheral nerve stimulation.
  • Botulinum toxin: This involves injection into the tremoring muscles to temporarily weaken the muscles and lessen tremor severity.
  • Deep brain stimulation: This is a surgery to implant a device that delivers electrical impulses to a specific part of your brain. The electrical impulses interrupt the signals that cause essential tremor muscle movements. This can improve tremors on both sides of your body.
  • Focused ultrasound: This procedure uses ultra-high-frequency sound waves focused onto a single point in your brain involved in the production of tremor, destroying the targeted tissue. This destruction can greatly reduce the severity of the tremor and improve hand steadiness. This can improve tremors on only one side of your body.

Complications/side effects of treatments

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Types Of Tremor & Tremor Terminology

Before proceeding further, it is important to briefly delve into tremor nosology. There is a variety of tremor types that clinicians must consider when evaluating patients . Rest tremor occurs when voluntary muscle activity is absent. Action tremor can be subdivided into postural, kinetic and intention tremors. Postural tremor occurs when holding a body part motionless against gravity. Re-emergent tremor is a particular type of postural tremor when the patient holds their arms extended, the tremor commences after a variable latency of one to several seconds. Kinetic tremor occurs with voluntary movement . Intention tremor occurs with goal-directed movement and worsens as the body part approaches the target. Familiarity with the terms defined above is necessary in order to understand the diagnostic criteria, which have been proposed for both ET and PD.

Tremors In Parkinsons Disease: What They Are Types Of Tremors And More

Getting the trembling associated with Parkinsons under control can be a challenge, but treatments can help.

Nicole Rerk/Shutterstock

Tremors are a defining characteristic of Parkinsons disease, affecting about 8 out of 10 people with this movement disorder. Many people think the involuntary shaking motion is the main problem for patients. While it is certainly an irritating symptom that individuals want to get under control, other characteristics of the disease can be more debilitating.

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Types Of Parkinsons Tremors

Quivering in these parts of the body can be signs of Parkinson’s:

  • Finger Twitching Commonly seen among patients in the early stages of the disease, this symptom is also called a pill-rolling tremor because the fingers and hand appear to be rolling a pill-sized object.
  • Jaw Tremors This movement in the jaw may resemble a slow shivering and disappear while eating or talking. In some cases, the teeth chatter. Patients may chew gum to stop the trembling.
  • Foot Tremors This shakiness may appear while resting, lying down, or dangling the feet. It stops when standing and walking. It can also extend beyond the feet and cause the whole leg to vibrate.
  • Tongue Tremors Although far less reported than other types of tremor, quivering in tongue can be a revealing manifestation of Parkinsons, according to an article published in December 2015 in the journal Movement Disorders Clinical Practice. The shaking can also appear in the chin, lips, and face.

While these types of tremors can help doctor identify Parkinsons, about 30 percent of patients do not have these movements, per prior research. Those people who do not have a resting tremor may not get a diagnosis immediately, says Gilbert. If doctors dont see it, they wont necessarily think a person has Parkinsons.

Can My Children Get Essential Tremor

Differences Between Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s Disease

Children of individuals with ET have a greater likelihood of having the condition, although some may never experience symptoms. A variant in the gene LINGO1 has been identified as a risk gene, although not all individuals with ET carry this variantwhich can also be present in people without ET. For those affected, the areas impacted and severity of symptoms can vary from person to person.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

Since Parkinsons disease causes the brain to lose control of movement, the most obvious symptom of the disease is tremor. In Parkinsons disease, the tremor starts involuntarily in the arm even when the person is not moving or not doing anything. This type of tremor is called rest tremor. Parkinsons disease slows and stiffens muscle movements. As the disease progresses, it can also affect a persons ability to balance, especially while walking.

There are 5 stages of Parkinsons disease:

  • Uncontrollable shaking and involuntary tremor
  • Slowed movement, known as bradykinesia
  • Balance issues and decreased reflexes
  • Stiffness in the limbs
  • Possible dementia, confusion, and hallucinations

Nearly 50 percent of those with stages 4 and 5 of Parkinsons disease experience confusion, hallucinations, and delusions, according to a 2016 study.

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Where Can I Get More Information

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institutes Brain Resources and Information Network at:

Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patients medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

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The Difference In The Prevalence

Essential tremor is more common than Parkinsons tremor. There are approx 41 million people worldwide are living with this condition. The current estimate shows that 4 out of 100 individuals over the age of 40 are affected by essential tremor.

The number of people suffering from Parkinsons disease is estimated to be 10 million. The statistic shows that around 4 percent of people with Parkinsons are diagnosed before the age of 50.

Resting Tremor Vs Action Tremor

273 best ESSENTIAL TREMORS images on Pinterest

Tremor is categorized into two main classifications: resting tremor and action tremor.

Resting tremor refers to shaking that occurs when a persons muscles are relaxed or at rest. For example, a person may experience a resting tremor in their hands when the persons hands are resting in their lap. Resting tremor only affects a persons hands or fingers .

Action tremor includes tremor that accompanies a persons voluntary movement, such as walking or moving the arms. Most tremors are considered to be action tremors and fall under various subcategories:

  • Postural tremor: occurs when a person attempts to maintain a position against the force of gravity, such as holding their arms outstretched.
  • Kinetic tremor: accompanies voluntary movement like blinking or moving hands.
  • Intention tremor: occurs when moving toward a target and worsens as a person nears their target, like touching the face with a hand or reaching for an object.
  • Task-specific tremor: manifests itself when an individual tries to perform a task involving skill or precision, such as handwriting or speaking.
  • Isometric tremor: accompanies voluntary muscle contractions that are not associated with movement, as when holding a dumbbell or other heavy object.

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