Many people who experience trembling, which is usually most obvious in the hands, immediately worry they have Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by tremors. The fact is that most older people have some degree of hand tremor, though it may not be so noticeable.
Moreover, though tremors appear most commonly in the hands, they also can occur in the head, torso, legs, arms, and even in the vocal cords. If you’ve ever heard someone speak with a shaky voice, it is likely due to a vocal cord tremor.
Tremors vary in other ways, as well: they may be intermittent or constant, and they can occur when the muscles are at rest or in motion. Although a tremor might become apparent at any age, they usually appear in middle-aged or older people.
Even the cause of tremors are variable: they may be neurological or a symptom of a movement disorder.
Most tremors fall into one of the following three categories:
1. Neurological conditions
Multiple Sclerosis (MS): The disease affects nerves that control movement, and tremors are a common symptom of MS.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD): More than a quarter of Parkinson’s sufferers have a tremor in at least one hand, though it may appear exclusively while the hand is at rest or exclusively while it is in motion.
Parkinson’s tremors usually start in just one limb, or on just one side of the body, “spreading” from there as the disease progresses. Many things, including stress, fatigue, or even strong emotion, can exacerbate a Parkinson’s tremor.
Brain Injury: Whether the injury is caused by an accident or a stroke makes no difference: any injury to the brain can lead to tremors.
2. Movement disorders
Essential tremors have a strong genetic component. They are “action tremors,” meaning that they occur during motion, and are most prominent in the dominant hand, though they occur on both sides of the body.
Dysytonic tremors occur when messages from the brain cause muscles to jerk. These tremors are often forceful.
3. Psychological factors
Psychogenic tremors, also known as a functional tremors, increases with stress. They are associated with some underlying psychiatric disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
Tremors may not be life-threatening, but they do affect quality of life. Depending on the type of tremor, medications or lifestyle changes, such as reducing caffeine intake, can help bring tremors under control.
Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, takes a restorative approach to senior health, maximizing function and mobility in a positive and upbeat atmosphere.
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