In addition to essential tremor, several other conditions can cause shaking of the hands and other body parts.
- Cerebellar tremor: Damage to the brain region called the cerebellum—such as from a stroke, tumor, or alcohol abuse—can produce a tremor in the arms or legs.
- Dystonic tremor: A movement disorder called dystonia causes the brain to send incorrect messages that trigger involuntary, jerky muscle movements, and abnormal postures. It tends to occur in young or middle-aged adults.
- Enhanced physiologic tremor: Our bodies naturally shake imperceptibly at all times (known as physiologic tremor), but some drugs (like some antidepressants and bronchodilators) and medical conditions (like low blood sugar and hyperthyroidism) can exaggerate tremor and make it more noticeable. The tremor can often be reversed by removing its cause.
- Orthostatic tremor: This tremor is caused by a rare disorder and occurs when a person stands, resulting in loss of balance.
- Parkinsonian tremor: Many, though not all, people with Parkinson’s disease develop a tremor; shaking of the hands at rest is typical, though the chin, lips, face, and legs can be affected, too.
- Psychogenic tremor: People who have conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder may develop a tremor that worsens in stressful circumstances.
This article first appeared in the January 2020 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.
Published January 23, 2020