Tremor Treatment

  • Treatment

    Tremor is generally not considered to be a medical emergency. You should, however, seek immediate medical care if your tremor came on rapidly.

    Take steps to reduce stress in your life. Take yoga, meditate, or try behavior-modification techniques to reduce the stress that can make tremors worse. Psychological counseling may also be of help.

    Avoid caffeine and certain over-the-counter drugs that can amplify tremor. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, as caffeine can intensify an existing tremor. In addition, certain diet medications, analgesics, and cold, asthma, and allergy medications can also make a tremor worse, and should be avoided.

    Learn as much as you can about tremor. Becoming educated about your condition can help to alleviate anxiety and increase your awareness about potential treatments and prognosis. The following newsletter may be a good place to start looking for information:

    The International Tremor Foundation, 360 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60610; Phone: (913) 341-3880; Fax: (913) 341-1296; http://essentialtremor.org

    Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.

    Behavioral therapy can help you learn to control stresses such as stage fright or situational anxiety that can cause anxiety-induced tremors.

    Certain drugs can induce tremor, and should be avoided. Drugs that may induce tremors include stimulants, lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, steroids, thyroid hormones, and caffeine.

    Alcohol can provide rapid but brief relief from tremor. You should not, however, self-medicate with alcohol, as there is a danger of developing dependence and other alcohol-related problems. In addition, withdrawal from alcohol (as well as withdrawal from opiates and benzodiazepines) can exacerbate an existing tremor.

    In difficult cases, surgery may be performed to relieve the symptoms of tremor. A disabling tremor that is unresponsive to medical treatment may be helped by a contralateral thalamotomy, a procedure associated with significant morbidity.

    High-frequency unilateral stimulation of the thalamus (deep brain stimulation) is an alternative to surgery, and is associated with only mild side effects. Patients undergoing deep brain stimulation will have an electrode implanted into their brain that they can turn on and off with a magnet.

    While some medications may briefly relieve symptoms of essential tremor, there is no cure. While most patients with essential tremor will not be seriously disabled, there is no cure for tremor, which becomes increasingly severe with age. Symptoms will fluctuate depending on the person's level of stress.

    Tremors associated with underlying diseases such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis can be treated, but become progressively severe over time and are uncurable.

    Because tremors generally worsen over time, it is important for patients to continue under their doctors' care. Medications or other therapies may be appropriate for later stages of the disorder.

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