Getting Treatment: Essential Tremor Vs Parkinsons Disease
There is currently no cure for essential tremor or Parkinsons. However, that does not mean you have no control over your condition. As doctors learn more about these conditions, developments in treatment and disease management continue to help patients preserve their quality of life as much as possible.
Parkinsons Tremors Vs Essential Tremors
Because they can be similar to Parkinsons tremors, essential tremors are often confused as symptoms of the disease. Just as with Parkinsons, essential tremor can cause uncontrollable rhythmic shaking in different parts of the body.
Up to 10 million people are affected by this common nervous system disorder. While genetics and environment likely play a role in essential tremor, the cause is unknown, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Essential tremors in the hands or arms can be distinct from Parkinsons because they typically happen when the hands are in use.
The essential tremor can get really bad when youre using your limb when drinking or eating soup, for example, says Gilbert. The Parkinsons tremor is usually not as disabling whereas the essential tremor can be life-altering.
The shaking from an essential tremor typically improves when using both hands to bring a cup to the mouth but the same action can amplify the tremor in Parkinson’s, according to Gilbert.
Dr. Beck points out that an essential tremor may be faster than a Parkinsons tremor, which tends to be milder. A difference can often be seen in a persons handwriting. Those with essential tremor tend to have more unsteady and wavy writing, whereas Parkinsons patients are more apt to display micrographia, or abnormally small handwriting.
They have low amplitude movement so their writing gets smaller and smaller to a point where it can be barely legible, he says.
Defining The Condition: Parkinsons Vs Essential Tremor
Parkinsons Disease: According to the Parkinsons Foundation, Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Parkinsons itself is not a fatal disease, however, it can have serious complications that can be.
- At what age does Parkinsons usually manifest? Typically Parkinsons typically manifests in individuals 50 years or older. However, Young Onset Parkinsons , affects 2% to 10% of individuals in the U.S. with Parkinsons.
- What is the prevalence of Parkinsons disease? According to Nih.gov, approximately 1.8% of adults 65 and older suffer from Parkinsons disease.
Essential Tremor: As defined by John Hopkins Medicine, essential tremor disorder is a neurological condition that causes your hands, head, trunk, voice, or legs to shake rhythmically. Generally, these tremors are worse when moving than when at rest. However, tremors can be severe enough to interfere with regular daily activities such as eating, speaking, and even using the restroom independently. Essential tremor is considered benign, or non-life-threatening.
- At what age does essential tremor usually manifest? Essential tremor typically affects individuals over the age of 65, however, it can develop at any age.
- What is the prevalence of essential tremor? According to Nih.gov, approximately 4.67% of adults 65 and older suffer from essential tremor.
Also Check: Yopd Life Expectancy
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of essential tremor vary from person to person, as does the rate of progression.
- Rhythmic tremors of the hands, legs, or trunk
- Head nodding in a “no-no” or “yes-yes” motion
- Voice quivering
- Tremors that occur involuntarily and cannot be stopped.
- Tremors that get worse during periods of stress and that lessen during rest.
- In rare cases, mild gait disturbance.
S Of The Body Affected
The tremor in PD usually starts on one side of the body and may develop on the other side as the disease progresses. In ET, the tremor usually affects both sides from the beginning of the condition.2
The hands are more often affected with tremor than the legs in people with PD, and the voice and head are almost never involved. In ET, the hands are also predominantly affected, but the tremor can also be present in the head and voice.2,3
Recommended Reading: Prayer For Parkinson’s Disease
Can Et And Pd Occur Together
Even more frightening is when PD or other parkinsonism syndrome occurs along with ET. Parkinsonism refers to conditions that resemble PD in many ways but are not true PD. A big difference is that medications that work for PD, such as L-dopa, have little or no effect on parkinsonism. In addition, a person with parkinsonism may not have tremors but will have other similar PD symptoms: bradykinesia , stooped posture, stiff walking, small steps, and reduced arm swinging when walking. Treatment using Deep Brain Stimulation does not help with parkinsonism.
There are other variants that are considered atypical Parkinsons disease . There is also a very rare condition called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy . In its early stages it also looks like PD or one of the forms of parkinsonism but with ongoing degeneration, stiffness, dizziness and falls become worse. There can also be personality and cognitive changes. Since any of the above can co-occur with ET, gaining an accurate diagnosis of co-existing conditions can be a confusing process. Symptoms overlap, so trying to tease out one diagnosis from another is challenging.
How To Tell The Difference
While a primary care physician or internist may be the first doctor to see a patient with tremors, he or she is generally not the most qualified person to issue a diagnosis. Instead, a referral is made to a specialist called a neurologist who is trained and experienced in movement disorders. Since there are many things that can cause uncontrollable shakiness, the neurologists initial concern is ruling out a disease, especially PD. Since there are no lab tests that can confirm the diagnosis, the initial consultation usually consists of the following:
- Personal medical history, including any past or current medications
- Family history
- Observation of physical symptoms, e.g. tremor, facial expression, walking, balance
- Testing reflexes, motor coordination, and muscle rigidity
- Writing tasks (handwriting sample, tracing a spiral shape
- Also ruling out PD based on pre-symptom experience, e.g. loss of sense of smell within the previous 10 years is a tell-tale sign of PD though it doesnt occur in every patient)
Don’t Miss: Parkinson’s Hallucinations Commercial
Parkinson’s Disease Vs Essential Tremor Early Symptoms How They Differ
As many as one million Americans currently live with Parkinson’s disease and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year. Around the world, more than 10 million people worldwide are living with the disease, according to the Parkinsons Disease Foundation.
A new study published in the journal Brain has shed new light on the genetics behind essential tremor, which is frequently misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. Understanding the differences between both diseases is key to reducing the prevalence of medical mistakes. Heres everything you need to know about both diseases.
Researchers are examining the genetics behind how essential tremor affects the body.Photo courtesy of Simon Gerard
Importance Of Early Diagnosis
Its important to diagnose the cause of tremor symptoms early because each requires a different treatment approach. For instance, there are particular medications for PD that offset the loss of dopamine in the brain, and while they benefit almost every PD patient in the early stages, they are useless for ET. There are many interventions that are appropriate for either ET or PD that can ease symptoms, slow progression, and improve quality of life. An early diagnosis also helps the doctor, patient and family members to develop a go forward treatment strategy, set up an appointment schedule, find support, identify potential future needs, and plan accordingly.
A great asset of early and accurate diagnosis is that it enables patients and family empowerment to offset the discouragement, worry and fear that can accompany diagnosis. There is a saying that knowledge is power, and at Sperling Neurosurgery Associates we also believe knowledge is hope.
We are proud to offer an outpatient procedure called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound to manage essential tremors, which is FDA approved to treat ET. MRgFUS does not require medication, there is no incision or drilling into the skull, and no exposure to radiation. Not only is it proven safe and effective for ET, it is currently in clinical trial for PD-related tremors, and we know that this is good reason for optimism about improved quality of life for those with tremors.
For more information contact Sperling Neurosurgery Associates
Recommended Reading: Cleveland Clinic Parkinson’s Bicycle Study 2017
How Are Parkinsons Tremors Treated
Tremor can be unpredictable. Some experts say itâs the toughest symptom to treat with medication. Your doctor may prescribe medication for your tremors:
- Levodopa/carbidopa combination medicines . This treatment is a type of medication called a dopamine agonist. Itâs usually the first treatment for Parkinsonâs.
About Dr Dan Sperling
Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Neurosurgery Associates.
You May Like: Sam Waterston Tremor
Data Abstraction And Analyses
The retrospective clinical record reviewer used an electronic data abstraction form designed for the study . The neurologist reviewed every fifth record to ensure high quality data abstraction. Abstracted items were: age at most recent assessment, gender, use of medication at any point to treat ET, first-degree relative with ET or PD, age of reported onset of ET, age at time of initial sign of PD, age at PD diagnosis, predominant side of action tremor ET , initial PD sign based on neurological examination, and predominant side of each cardinal sign of PD based on neurological examination. In some analyses, we calculated odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals .
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Knowing the early warning signs of Parkinsons disease is very important for your health. Non-motor and motor symptoms can vary slightly from case to case in PD patients. Early signs and symptoms of Parkinsons disease may be too mild to notice or may be mistaken for other similar conditions.
As mentioned, tremors are typically the most common symptom in all Parkinsons patients. Action tremor is characterized by involuntary shaking that usually begins in the limbs, like your hand shaking even when you are at rest. They may manifest as pill-rolling tremors, wherein you rub your thumb and index finger together.
Slow movement, medically known as bradykinesia, is another common symptom of Parkinsons disease. As the disease progresses, all of your movements may get slower and slower, making everyday tasks difficult or more time-consuming. What are some motor symptoms? You may have trouble walking or lifting yourself out of chairs. Your feet may drag or feel like they are stuck to the floor, and your steps may get shorter.
Your limbs may also become rigid. Muscle rigidity and stiffness can be painful and reduce your full range of motion. Furthermore, your posture may begin to deteriorate, resulting in you stooping, slouching, postural instability, or hunching over even when you think you are standing straight. Performing coordination exercises for Parkinsons patients may be beneficial for their physical health.
Don’t Miss: Does Sam Waterston Have Parkinsons
Predominant Side Of Et Tremor And Predominant Side Of Pd Signs
The side of greatest initial ET action tremor severity generally matched that side of greatest severity of each PD sign : diminished arm swing , limb bradykinesia , rigidity , and rest tremor . Results were similar when the side of greatest initial ET action tremor severity was determined by neurological examination as opposed to by patient history.
Treatments For Parkinsons Disease
While currently available Parkinsons treatments cannot slow or halt the disease, they can help manage symptoms. According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, here are some of the most common treatment options:
There are also lifestyle changes that you can make to help with your Parkinsons symptoms, including:
- Practicing strength training to help with movement
- Stretching to help with rigidity
- Getting massages to relieve muscle stiffness and stress
- Eating a healthier diet to help with lethargy
While these are the most commonly recommended treatment options for Parkinsons disease right now, there is a lot of effort and financial support toward finding new solutions, including clinical trials of medications.
Also Check: Judy Woodruff Health Problems
What Will Happen If Essential Tremor As A Treatment For Parkinson
What will happen if essential tremor as a treatment for Parkinson? If essential tremor is used as a treatment for Parkinsons disease, it will not only have no effect, but it will also cause dependence due to long-term use of drugs to treat Parkinsons disease.
If essential tremor is used as a treatment for Parkinsons disease, it will not only have no effect, but will also have many side effects due to long-term use of drugs for the treatment of Parkinsons disease. For example, long-term use of drugs such as Xining and levodopa can cause side effects such as drowsiness, irritability, and difficulty swallowing.
In the clinic, some patients were diagnosed with essential tremor before, but after a few years, they were diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. Studies have found that the proportion of patients with essential tremor suffering from Parkinsons disease is higher than that of ordinary people.
The onset of essential tremor mainly affects the liver, kidney, tendons and veins, and the deficiency of liver and kidney yin is the fundamental pathological basis of the onset.
The more you want to control the onset of essential tremor, the stronger you are. The more you want to control, the more nervous you are, and the more nervous you are, the more obvious your shaking will be.
What You Need To Know
- Essential tremor disorder is a neurological condition that causes your hands to shake rhythmically. The head, trunk and voice might also be involved, but hand shaking is most prominent. The cause is not known, but it is often passed down from a parent to a child.
- Essential tremor is sometimes confused with other types of tremor, so getting the right diagnosis is important.
- Tremors tend to be worse during movement than when at rest. The tremors can be disabling and can slowly worsen over time.
- Some things might make tremors worse, and avoiding them may be helpful. Medicines can also help control or limit tremors in some people. Severe tremors can sometimes be treated with surgery.
Don’t Miss: Parkinson Silverware
What Is Essential Tremor
Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes your hands, head, trunk, voice or legs to shake rhythmically. It is often confused with Parkinson’s disease.
Essential tremor is the most common trembling disorder. Everyone has at least a small degree of tremor, but the movements usually cannot be seen or felt because the tremor is so small. When tremors are noticeable, the condition is classified as essential tremor.
Essential tremor is most common among people older than 65, but it can affect people at any age. Some experts have proposed considering ET that starts earlier in life as essential tremor and ET that begins later in life as age-related tremor, because the conditions may have different symptoms and may respond differently to treatments.
Parkinsons Vs Essential Tremor
Lets Talk About You
We can help you to navigate the options available for your tremors.
Parkinsons disease and essential tremor show many similar symptoms as neurological disorders, which makes them difficult diseases to differentiate. By monitoring the onset and severity of your symptoms, you can help physicians during the diagnostic process. Diagnosing PD or ET can be a lengthy process, so it is important to be vigilant in recording your new or worsening symptoms. In this blog, we will compare and contrast PD and ET in order to help you better understand your disease.
What is Parkinsons?
PD is a brain disorder that affects the nerve cells and causes shaking in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, and difficulty with balance. Most PD symptoms start with tremors on one side of the body, and in most cases, these tremors begin at the hands. When PD progresses, these symptoms can worsen and other non-motor symptoms may present, including sleep problems, fatigue, and depression. While we have just provided a scientific breakdown of PD, the truth is that PD is unpredictable. It is hard to know whether or not you are going to end up with PD, especially if none of your relatives have been previously diagnosed.
What is the essential tremor?
What are the main differences between Parkinsons and Essential Tremor?
Differences between PD and ET symptoms:
You Are Not Alone
Also Check: Judy Woodruff Parkinson’s
Essential Tremor Vs Parkinson’s Tremors: A Guide To The Major Differences
When people think of Parkinson’sdisease, they may picture the shaking hands commonly associated with thecondition. Persistent shaking of hands and limbsalso known as tremorcan makeit difficult to write a grocery list, hold a cup of tea, button a shirt andapply makeup, among other routine tasks. When tremors interfere with dailylife, it can be very disruptive. While tremors are a hallmark of Parkinson’spatients, there are other diseases similar to Parkinson’s that can causetremors.