First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Tremor
Tremor is an involuntary shaking movement that is repeated over and over. Although it may affect any part of the body, tremor most often affects the hands and head. Your voice may also shake. Sometimes the feet or torso may also shake.
Essential tremor, which sometimes runs in families, is one of the most common types of tremor. It is shaking that is most noticeable when you are doing something like lifting a cup or pointing at an object. The shaking does not occur when you are not moving. Medicine can help reduce the shaking. Brain surgery can be helpful in some cases.
Tremors can also be caused by conditions or medicines that affect the nervous system, including Parkinson's disease, liver failure, alcohol use disorder, mercury or arsenic poisoning, lithium, and certain antidepressants. Side effects from other medicines can also cause tremors.
If you notice a tremor, observe it carefully and note what seems to make it better or worse before calling your doctor. There are some differences between essential tremor and tremor caused by Parkinson's disease. If a cause is discovered, the disease will be treated rather than the tremor.
Call your doctor if:
Some tremors can be treated with medicine or surgery.
Essential tremor that doesn't get better with medicine may be treated with surgery, such as:
Other Works Consulted
Ropper AH, et al. (2014). Tremor, myoclonus, focal dystonias, and tics. In Adams and Victor's Principles of Neurology, 10th ed., pp. 92–114. York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Zesiewicz TA, et al. (2011). Evidence-based guideline update: Treatment of essential tremor. Neurology 77(19): 1752–1755. Available online: http://www.neurology.org/content/77/19/1752.full.html.
Current as of: March 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineG. Frederick Wooten MD - Neurology
Current as of:
March 28, 2019
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & G. Frederick Wooten MD - Neurology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
509 N. Bright Leaf Blvd.
Smithfield, NC 27577
Phone (919) 934-8171
Employee Intranet Login
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.