Essential tremor (previously also called benign essential tremor or familial tremor) is the most common tremor disorder. It usually involves shaking of hands and is more pronounced when the limb is in use or action. The exact cause for essential tremor is unknown. Essential tremor is one of the most common of neurological movement disorders affecting about 5% of the population over age 40. Though more common in the elderly this can occur at any age and involve other body parts such as legs, head, trunk and vocal cords. At times, this is seen in association with other neurological conditions. Though it does not influence the life expectancy of an individual, it can interfere significantly with simple daily tasks. Patients may experience trouble with writing, using utensils to eat and drink, taking care of personal hygiene including shaving. 

Other types of tremor are physiologic tremor, dystonic tremor, cerebellar tremor, Parkinson tremor, orthostatic tremor and psychogenic tremor. 

Diagnosing Tremor Disorders

The Emory Clinic Movement Disorders Center offers a broad range of diagnostic procedures to accurately identify the cause of tremor. Our physicians are highly trained to analyze the nature of a patient's condition to help design an effective treatment plan. The Movement Disorders Center is equipped with the latest innovations in diagnostic tools to aid our physicians in identifying a patient's movement disorder. Use of Dopamine reuptake transporter scan (DaT scan imaging) and other ancillary tools such as 3D kinematic Motion Analysis improves the accuracy of correctly diagnosing the condition. 

Tremor Disorder Treatments

The Movement Disorders Center provides tremor treatments that include medications, surgery, rehabilitation, and psychiatric services for patients. Surgical treatment for tremor includes deep brain stimulation or gamma knife thalamotomy. Emory has skilled neurologists who offer botulinum toxin injections for limb and neck tremor when indicated. Botulinum toxin therapy is also used for vocal tremors, provided at the Emory Voice Center.

Why Choose Emory?

Emory Movement Disorders clinic cares for approximately 600 patients with essential tremor annually. Emory is one of the first institutes in the nation to implement Deep Brain Stimulation procedure for the treatment of tremor in addition to traditional medications that are used for its treatment. Our large group of specialists are known to lead trials and are on the forefronts of developing new diagnostic as well as therapeutic interventions. Each clinician brings with them their unique expertise. Additionally, the clinic provides a unique comprehensive support system in the form of psychiatric services, neuropsychology, physical therapy and rehabilitation as well as social services to help deal with the impact of the disease in a person’s life.  

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