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Essential Tremor

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Elan D. Louis, MD, MS, Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Columbia University, who was consulted in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Essential Tremor

  • benign essential tremor (obsolete)
  • ET
  • familial essential tremor
  • hereditary tremor

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Summary
Essential tremor (ET) is a progressive, neurological disorder characterized by tremor, most often of the hands or arms. A tremor is an involuntary, rhythmic, movement of a body part. Tremor may be seen as involuntary shaking or trembling of the affected area. In individuals with ET, other motor symptoms may be present including an unsteady manner of walking due to an inability to coordinate voluntary movements (ataxia). In some cases, affected individuals may also develop a variety of non-motor symptoms including cognitive impairment or personality changes. ET can occur in childhood or adulthood. The exact, underlying cause of ET is not fully understood. In some cases, the disorder runs in families; in others, it occurs in individuals with no previous family history. The cause of ET is most likely multifactorial, which means that several factors, such as genetic and environmental ones, all play a role in the development of the disorder.

Introduction
Traditionally, ET was viewed as a relatively benign disorder characterized by one symptom, tremor. However, ET can be associated with a variety of psychosocial issues and it can potentially significantly disrupt daily activities and social interactions. Consequently, the term benign was dropped from the name. In addition, researchers have determined that additional non-motor symptoms can be associated with the disorder. Some researchers now believe that essential tremor may actually represent a group of similar, yet distinct, disorders sharing the common trait of kinetic tremor.

Organizations related to Essential Tremor

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