Causes of Tremors

It is normal for people to experience certain degrees of tremor.  For some people, problems in certain parts of their brain (especially in the cerebellum and basal ganglia) cause problems in body movement.  Neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease; certain diseases like liver failure, thyroid disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis; and drugs like steroids, amphetamines and alcohol can cause tremors. The cause of essential tremor, a very common form of tremor, is still a mystery although it is thought to be inherited.

A tremor is basically a type of involuntary movement one sees the most in people. It can affect any part of the body. Tremors frequently affect the hands but they also affect the head, chin and the legs from time to time and can even affect a person’s voice in certain cases. Usually both sides of the person’s body are affected by tremors. In certain types of tremors like tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease, the tremor affects one side of the body.

Tremors are more evident when the person is moving, holding something or at rest. Tremors can also be classified into certain categories. These include:

Isometric tremor – This tremor happens when a person holds a physical position for a long time (like stretching your hands horizontally and holding a heavy object for a long time).

Task–specific tremors – These tremors are caused by a condition called dystonia.

Intention tremor – Intention tremors can occur in people with multiple sclerosis. They can be the result of diseases and conditions like traumatic brain injury, normal aging, insulinoma, hypoparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, low blood sugar, brain tumors, fragile X syndrome, Guillain–Barré syndrome, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, Wilson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, alcohol withdrawal, alcoholism and stroke.

Resting tremor – This is a kind of tremor often caused by Parkinson’s disease.

Action tremor – There can be many causes of action tremor, but head injury and multiple sclerosis are the two most common causes of this type of tremor.

Factors that May Cause the Tremor to Worsen or Improve

Certain medicines may cause tremors to develop or worsen although most people seem not to be aware of this fact. Taking in a large amount of caffeine or not having eaten for a considerable period of time can also cause tremors in the body. Physical or severe emotional stress usually exacerbates the tremors. When you begin to shake after standing up, you have what is known as an orthostatic tremor.

It can be good on your part to observe what improves your tremor.  Sometimes, if you are suffering from essential tremors, for some unknown reason, drinking alcohol in moderation can be beneficial as it helps improve your essential tremor.  In the case of orthostatic tremors, this condition usually improves after you sit down.

Kine Fischler is a licensed acupuncture physician and the clinical director of Willow Tree Wellness Clinic in Portland, OR.

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