Autoimmune Diseases Web

Classification of Tremor and Update on Treatment


Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Nashville, Tennessee

Tremor is a symptom of many disorders, including Anxiety,Celiac disease,hyperthyroidism, Multiple sclerosis,Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, orthostatic tremor, cerebellar disease, neuropathy and alcohol withdrawal. Tremors may be classified as, resting or action tremors. Treatment should be aimed at the primary cause of the tremor as Celiac disease can trigger cerbellar degeneration and maybe even parkinson so a gluten free diet should be tried in all patients. Parkinson disease tremor therapy is with sinemet. Essential tremor is treated with  propranolol or primidone. Propranolol may be useful in treating alcohol withdrawal tremor, gluten free diet may control the cerebellar tremor associated with multiple sclerosis. Clonazepam may relieve orthostatic tremor. Other agents are also available for the treatment of tremor. When medical therapy fails to control the tremor, surgical options such as thalamotomy, pallidotomy and thalamic stimulation should be considered in severe cases. Thalamic stimulation, the most recent of these surgical approaches, offers the advantage over ablative procedures of alleviating tremor without the creation of a permanent lesion.Tremor is the uncontrollable, rhythmic movement of any part of the body, to find a treatment one has to narrow down the cause of the disease.

Rhythmicity distinguishes tremor from disorders in which tremor may be a component, such as choreoathetosis and dystonia, and its biphasic nature distinguishes tremor from clonus.1 The frequency and amplitude of a tremor vary to the degree that the tremor may be hardly noticeable or severely disabling. Frequency can be divided into three categories of oscillations per second: slow (3 to 5 Hz), intermediate (5 to 8 Hz) or rapid (9 to 12 Hz).3 Amplitude may be classified as fine, medium or coarse, depending on the displacement produced by the tremor about the fixed plane.3 A coarse tremor has a large displac A coarse tremor has a large displacement, whereas a fine tremor is barely noticeable. Tremor may be unifocal, multifocal or generalized, and may affect the head, face, jaw, voice, tongue, trunk or extremities.


Classification of Tremors, and Their Characteristics and Treatment

Type of tremor 





5 to 9 HzWhen limb is positioned against gravityPhysiologic tremor, essential tremor, alcohol or drug withdrawal, metabolic disturbances, drug-induced tremor, psychogenic tremorBeta blockers, primidone (Mysoline), acetazolamide (Diamox), clonazepam (Klonopin), botulinum toxin, brain gabapentin (Neurontin), deep stimulation, thalamotomyRest tremor3 to 6 HzWhen limb is fully supported against gravity and the muscles are not voluntarily activatedParkinson's disease, multiple- systems atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, drug-induced tremor, rubral tremor, psychogenic tremorLevodopa­carbidopa (Sinemet), anticholinergics and other antiparkinsonian agents, deep brain stimulation, pallidotomy, thalamotomyAction tremor†3 to 10 HzDuring any type of movementCerebellar lesions, rubral tremor, psychogenic tremorWrist weights, isoniazid

*--Drugs and other treatments are generally listed in the order in which they should be tried. An adequate trial of each medication must be tried before the agent is judged to be ineffective. Many of these drugs are not specifically labeled for the treatment of tremor or have not undergone extensive studies to support their use in the treatment of tremor.

†--Action tremor includes intention tremor (exacerbation toward the end of goal-directed movement), kinetic tremor (during any type of movement) and task-specific tremor (only during performance of highly skilled activities, such as writing or playing a musical instument).{short description of image} please continue to next pager