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What Is The Difference Between Tremors And Parkinson’s Disease

What Makes Them Different

What is the difference between Essential tremor and Parkinson Disease tremor?

MS and Parkinsonâs have different causes. They usually start to affect you at different ages, too.

MS often affects people between ages 20 and 50, but children get it, too. Parkinsonâs usually starts at age 60 or older, but some younger adults get it.

MS is an autoimmune disease. That means your bodyâs immune system goes haywire for some reason. It attacks and destroys myelin. As myelin breaks down, your nerves and nerve fibers get frayed.

In Parkinsonâs, certain brain cells start to die off. Your brain makes less and less of a chemical called dopamine that helps control your movement. As your levels dip, you lose more of this control.

Some genes may put you at risk for Parkinsonâs, especially as you age. Thereâs a small chance that people who are exposed to toxic chemicals like pesticides or weed killers can get it, too.

These symptoms are more common if you have MS. They are not usually found in Parkinsonâs:

  • Dizziness or vertigo, where you feel like the room spins around and you lose your balance

Other Differences In Tremor Features

There are a few other differences in the tremors experienced by those diagnosed with essential tremor and those diagnosed with Parkinsons.

Parkinsons Tremors Are Slower

While Parkinsons tremors are still noticeable, they are slower than those associated with essential tremor.

Parkinsons Tremors Are Bigger

The range of motion, or amplitude, of tremors experienced by those diagnosed with Parkinsons is usually greater than those experienced by people diagnosed with essential tremor.

Parkinsons Tremors Roll

A hand tremor in someone with Parkinsons is likely to begin with a wrist movement and end with the fingertips rolling together. This is sometimes called a pill-rolling tremor.

Essential Tremor Vs Parkinsons Disease Explained

Tremors are one of the most characteristic symptoms of Parkinsons disease. They are so characteristic, in fact, that even those without the disease often associate the symptom with Parkinsons. But there are a number of medical conditions other than Parkinsons that could explain why a person may have tremors and bodily shakes.

One such condition is known as essential tremor. A person can be diagnosed with essential tremor but not Parkinsons. And you can have both. Because the movements associated with essential tremor are similar to the shaking that occurs with Parkinsons disease, it can be hard to tell the two apart.

Here is what you need to know about these two conditions so you can distinguish between them and understand your own diagnosis.

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Dementia With Lewy Bodies

DLB is second only to Alzheimers as the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. It causes progressive intellectual and functional deterioration. In addition to the signs and symptoms of Parkinsons disease, people with DLB tend to have frequent changes in thinking ability, level of attention or alertness and visual hallucinations. They usually do not have a tremor or have only a slight tremor. The parkinsonian symptoms may or may not respond to levodopa.

How Do I Take Care Of Myself


Essential tremor is a condition that starts with very mild symptoms, if theyre even noticeable at all, and progresses slowly. It usually takes years before the symptoms reach a point where its recommended to start a treatment. Even then, many people can choose not to receive treatment until their symptoms are more severe.

The best things you can do to care for yourself include the following:

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How Do Treatments Differ

MS treatments can ease your symptoms during an attack or slow down the diseaseâs effects on your body.

Steroids like prednisone calm the inflammation that damages your nerves.

Plasma exchange is another therapy if steroids donât work. Your doctor will use a machine to remove the plasma portion of your blood. The plasma gets mixed with a protein solution and put back into your body.

Some people with both diseases who take anti-inflammatory medicines like steroids see their Parkinsonâs symptoms get better.

Disease-modifying treatments slow down MS nerve damage and disability. They include:

Medications to treat Parkinsonâs either raise your dopamine levels or offer a substitute. They can ease Parkinsonâs symptoms like tremors. Over time, they may become less effective.

Medicines used to treat Parkinsonâs include:

Deep-brain stimulation is another treatment for Parkinsonâs. A doctor places electrodes into your brain. They send out electric pulses that ease symptoms in your body.

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What Can I Expect If I Have Essential Tremor

Essential tremor is usually progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. This is usually a slow process. The average rate that arm or hand tremors get worse is between 1.5% and 5% a year.

Essential tremor starts small and usually only affects your hands at first. Over time, usually many years, the tremors may spread to affect your arm and head. As the condition progresses, you may begin to struggle with certain activities and may need help to do them.

How long does essential tremor last, and can it go away?

Essential tremor is a permanent, life-long condition once it starts. Its not curable, and it doesnt go away on its own.

Whats the outlook for essential tremor?

In years past, the term benign, meaning harmless, was a standard part of its name, as in benign essential tremor. However, experts now recognize that while essential tremor isnt harmful directly, it can cause severe disruptions in your life.

People with more severe tremors struggle with activities such as cooking, using kitchen utensils, drinking from a cup, hygiene activities, grooming and dressing. Some people who have essential tremor eventually cant live independently and need to live with family or in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility setting.

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Main Difference Parkinsonism Vs Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsonism and Parkinsons disease are two medical conditions that occur due to the unusual functioning of brain processes and it is quite confusing to identify the line of demarcation which differentiates one from the other. However, health care professionals tend to observe various clinical features, findings on physical examination and investigations, in order to establish an accurate diagnosis, for the purpose of treatment and follow-ups. The main difference between Parkinsonism and Parkinsons disease is that Parkinsonism is a comparatively rapidly progressive condition than Parkinsons disease with additional features like hallucinations, delusions, and dementia.

Here, we will discuss,

1. What is Parkinsonism Clinical Features, Cause, Method of Treatment

2. What is Parkinsons Disease Clinical Features, Cause, Method of Treatment

3. Difference Between Parkinsonism and Parkinsons disease

What Is A Tremor

Differences Between Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s Disease

A tremor is a specific type of shaking that affects a particular area of the body. It is unintentional, meaning that the person experiencing the tremor is not doing anything on purpose to cause the shaking.

Tremors are also rhythmic in nature. That is, the shaking in a tremor is not completely random. The movements actually have their own rhythm, almost like the beat of a piece of music. A tremor does not have to be exactly on beat to qualify as such. But some sort of repetitive, cyclical nature to the shaking can distinguish the movements.

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Symptoms Of Essential Tremor

The primary symptom of essential tremor is involuntary, rhythmic shaking. This tremor can affect any part of the body, though the disorder typically occurs most often in the hands and arms. These symptoms can potentially progress to the voice and head, though for many people the symptoms are relegated to mild tremors in the hands and arms. When it does spread to the head, a head tremor may manifest as no-no or yes-yes nodding.

Essential tremor begins slowly and usually affects one side of the body. The tremor also gets worse when you move. Tremors can also get aggravated by caffeine, fatigue, extreme temperatures, or emotional distress.

How Are They Alike

MS and Parkinsonâs both affect your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord. Thatâs why they both can affect how you move, sleep, feel, and talk.

These diseases both affect your nerves. MS can break down the coating, called myelin, that surrounds and protects your nerves. In Parkinsonâs, nerve cells in a part of your brain slowly die off.

Both can start out with mild symptoms, but they get worse over time.

Common symptoms of both diseases include:

  • Shaky fingers, hands, lips, or limbs
  • Slurred speech thatâs hard for others to understand
  • Numb or weak limbs that make your walk unsteady
  • Loss of muscle control that often affects one side of your body at first, then later both
  • Spastic limb movements that are hard to control
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Poor balance

Depression is another symptom common to both conditions.

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Causes: Parkinsons Vs Essential Tremor

The cause is largely unknown for both Parkinsons and essential tremor. However, there are theories about what may cause these conditions.

In regards to essential tremor, John Hopkins Medicine notes that there is a theory that the condition may be caused by miscommunication between the cerebellum and other parts of the brain. There is also believed to be a genetic predisposition for developing essential tremor. You may be 50% more likely to develop essential tremor if your parent has the condition.

It is also important to note that certain factors can also cause other types of tremors. For example, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, certain medications, thyroid overactivity, and toxins like lead and mercury can produce tremors that might be confused with this condition.

In regards to what causes Parkinsons disease, the direct cause as to why specific individuals develop Parkinsons is unknown. However, what happens within the body that causes Parkinsons symptoms to manifest, is the gradual loss of brain cells that are responsible for producing dopamine. When this happens, it can interfere with normal body movement, leading to patients to exhibit the common symptoms of Parkinsons.

How Does Essential Tremor Affect My Body

What Is The Difference Between Essential Tremor And Parkinson Disease ...

Essential tremor causes parts of your body to shake when you try to use them. This is usually a problem when using your hands but can also affect your head, voice and other body parts. Essential tremor is a condition that gets worse slowly, taking years to reach levels where it starts to disrupt a persons life.

In the earlier stages, essential tremor isnt a problem. Some people may find it makes certain activities harder, but many can compensate. However, as the condition worsens, it can cause problems with fine-detail work and activities, such as handwriting, using eating utensils, sewing or tasks requiring precision.

As essential tremor worsens, this condition can have more severe effects. People who have it may not be able to feed themselves or even cook because of how severely their hands shake. Others may not be able to write, dress, bathe or otherwise take care of themselves.

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The Difference In The Prevalence

Essential tremor is more common than Parkinsons tremor. There are approx 41 million people worldwide are living with this condition. The current estimate shows that 4 out of 100 individuals over the age of 40 are affected by essential tremor.

The number of people suffering from Parkinsons disease is estimated to be 10 million. The statistic shows that around 4 percent of people with Parkinsons are diagnosed before the age of 50.

Difference Between Tremors And Parkinson’s Disease

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Parkinson’s Disease Vs Essential Tremor: The Diagnostic Process


  • Patient reports on their symptoms
  • Diagnostic checklists
  • Physical examinations of various kinds, such as being asked to complete certain activities
  • A look at your family history

Your doctor may also:

  • Order a dopamine transporter imaging test Parkinson’s disease patients gradually lose dopamine, so test results indicative of this suggest Parkinson’s disease.
  • Use techniques such as accelerometry to look at the severity and patterns of your tremors.
  • Test your sense of smell, something that is often affected in people with Parkinson’s disease.

  • Fekete R, Jankovic J. Revisiting the relationship between essential tremor and Parkinsons disease. Mov Disord 2011,26:391-398.

What Causes Essential Tremor And Is There Anything That Triggers It

How to distinguish Parkinson’s disease from Essential Tremor – New Day Northwest

Experts dont know exactly why essential tremor happens or if there are triggers that cause them to happen. However, theres evidence that it happens because of the changes in certain parts of your brain.

And while experts dont know exactly why essential tremor happens, they do know that this condition can run in families. About half of all essential tremor cases are inherited. This condition appears to be an autosomal dominant inherited condition. That means if one parent passes a mutated gene that causes essential tremor to you, theres about a 50% chance that youll inherit the condition.

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The Difference In The Appearance Of Tremor

Essential tremor is usually an action tremor. It means that it appears when the hands are performing activities like drinking, eating, and writing.

On the other hand, tremor in Parkinsons disease appears when the hands are at rest. This is why its also known as resting tremor.

This is an easy way to differentiate between the two tremors and often used as a useful diagnostic criterion at the clinic.

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Tremors In Parkinsons Disease: What They Are Types Of Tremors And More

Getting the trembling associated with Parkinsons under control can be a challenge, but treatments can help.

Nicole Rerk/Shutterstock

Tremors are a defining characteristic of Parkinsons disease, affecting about 8 out of 10 people with this movement disorder. Many people think the involuntary shaking motion is the main problem for patients. While it is certainly an irritating symptom that individuals want to get under control, other characteristics of the disease can be more debilitating.

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Management Of Tremor: Levodopa And Deep Brain Stimulation

Medication for tremor in PD is initiated when symptoms become distressing or embarrassing in social settings, and levodopa and dopamine agonists are typically prescribed . Antiparkinsonian medications result in a reduction in the amplitude of tremor but not frequency . Although early PD symptoms are generally considered well-controlled by antiparkinsonian medications, tremor response is less robust compared to other dopaminergic symptoms, such as bradykinesia and rigidity . Parkinson’s disease patients, many of whom had mild on average symptom severity , echoed these limitations of their current medication options through free-text responses to the following question: What kind of assistance might help you cope or solve ?

I look forward to medication to diminish my tremor symptoms and hope to delay progression of the disease.

I try to accomplish things when I know that my medication will be at its peak time.

Although DBS offers robust tremor management for mid- and advanced stage patients, therapies for tremor control in early stage PD are currently limited to pharmacological options, primarily levodopa. Levodopa offers variable relief from symptoms and is associated with significant side-effects that often preclude lifelong use, including irreversible levodopa-induced dyskinesias in most patients . Tremor control remains a source of concern for early stage PD patients, and future studies should explore alternative treatments for tremor in this population.

A Tremor Doesnt Always Mean Its Parkinsons

Difference Between Essential Tremor and Parkinsonâs Disease

Many people think of Parkinsons disease as the tremor disease, so much so, that when a tremor is noticed, the first diagnosis people typically think of is PD. Although about 25% of people with PD do not have tremor, 75% of them do, so tremor is certainly a very visible and characteristic symptom of PD.

However, there are many other medical conditions that can cause a tremor. Today, we will discuss the features of various tremors, other medical conditions that can manifest with tremor, and the clues that distinguish a PD tremor from other types of tremor.

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Clinical Situation #: Et Or Et+pd

Clinical summary

A 40-year-old woman with a family history of ET develops a kinetic tremor and, a few years later, a postural head tremor. Her tremor worsens considerably such that she has severe and debilitating tremor by the age of 65 years. At 70 years of age, she also develops a tremor at rest with no other features of parkinsonism.

This patient likely only has ET with isolated rest tremor, a feature that can develop in ET cases with longstanding and severe disease.

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