What is essential tremor?
Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary, rhythmic movements that get worse with activity. While it can occur in any part of the body, it often affects the arms and hands.
The condition tends to affect members of the same family. The tremor of essential tremor often improves with alcohol, although we don’t recommend using alcohol as a treatment.
Essential tremor symptoms
Patients diagnosed with essential tremor may also experience the following:
- Involuntary movements that often involve the wrist and fingers, creating the appearance of hand flapping. They may also affect the head, face, mouth and tongue.
- Symptoms become progressive and disabling that worsen as patient ages
- Symptoms worsen with activity, stop at rest and can improve with alcohol
Treatment options for essential tremor at UCLA
If you've been diagnosed with essential tremor, your doctor will first prescribe medication. Not all medications are appropriate for all patients. If first line medications (Primidone and Propranolol) fail to adequately control your tremor, your doctor may consider recommending either MRgFUS, deep brain stimulation, or radiosurgical thalamotomy. At the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders Program, we offer the following treatment options:
- Medical treatments: prescribed medications (Beta Blockers, Anticonvulsants, Benzodiazepines), local injections of botulinum toxin (BTX).
- Non-Invasive MR Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS): uses high intensity focused ultrasound waves to heat up a precise target in the brain. UCLA is the only hospital in Southern California that offers non-invasive treatment for Essential Tremor.
- Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): Implants electrodes, or wires, deep inside the brain to change irregular brain activity.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (radiosurgical thalamotomy): Delivers high focal radiation on a targeted area of the brain.