A tremor is a type of shaking movement. A tremor is most often noticed in your hands and arms. It may affect any body part, even your head or voicebox.
Tremor – hand; Hand tremor; Tremor – arms; Kinetic tremor; Intention tremor; Postural tremor
Tremors can happen at any age. They are more common in older people. Everyone has some tremor when they move their hands. Stress, fatigue, anger, fear, caffeine, and smoking may make this type of tremor worse.
A tremor that does not go away over time may be a sign of a medical problem and should be checked by your health care provider.
Tremor may be caused by:
Brain, nerve, or movement disorders, including uncontrolled muscle movements (
Excessive alcohol consumption,
alcoholism, or alcohol withdrawal Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle tiredness or weakness
Stress, anxiety, or fatigue can cause a postural tremor
Too much coffee or other caffeinated drink
For tremors caused by stress, try ways to relax, such as meditation or breathing exercises. For tremors of any cause, avoid caffeine and get enough sleep.
For tremors caused by a medicine, talk to your doctor about stopping the drug, reducing the dosage, or switching to another medicine. Do not change or stop medications on your own.
For tremors caused by alcohol abuse, seek treatment to help you stop using alcohol.
Severe tremors may make it hard to do daily activities. You may need help with these activities.
Devices that may help include:
- Buying clothes with Velcro fasteners or using button hooks
- Cooking or eating with utensils that have a larger handle
- Using a sippy cup to drink
- Wearing slip-on shoes and using shoehorns
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor if your tremor:
- Is worse at rest and gets better with movement such as when you reach for something
- Is prolonged, severe, or interferes with your life
- Occurs with other symptoms, such as headache, weakness, abnormal tongue movements, muscle tightening, or other movements that you cannot control
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your doctor will perform a physical exam, including a detailed brain and nervous system (neurologic) examination. You may be asked questions to help your doctor find the cause of your tremors:
The following tests may be ordered:
- Blood tests such as
CBC, blood differential, thyroid function tests, and glucose test EMGor nerve conduction studies Head CT scan MRI of the head
- Urine tests
Once a cause of the tremor has been determined, treatment will be prescribed.
You may not need treatment unless the tremor interferes with your daily activities or causes embarrassment.
Treatment depends on the cause. Tremor caused by a medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism, will likely get better when the condition is treated.
You may be prescribed medicines to help relieve symptoms. How well medicines work depends on your overall health and the cause of the tremor.