Approach to a tremor patient

Soumya Sharma, Sanjay Pandey

  

Abstract

iStock 95838760 patientsTremors are commonly encountered in clinical practice and are the most common movement disorders seen. It is defined as a rhythmic, involuntary oscillatory movement of a body part around one or more joints.

In the majority of the population, tremor tends to be mild. They have varying etiology; hence, classifying them appropriately helps in identifying the underlying cause. Clinically, tremor is classified as occurring at rest or action. They can also be classified based on their frequency, amplitude, and body part involved. Parkinsonian tremor is the most common cause of rest tremor. Essential tremor (ET) and enhanced physiological tremor are the most common causes of action tremor. Isolated head tremor is more likely to be dystonic rather than ET. Isolated voice tremor could be considered to be a spectrum of ET. Psychogenic tremor is not a diagnosis of exclusion; rather, demonstration of various clinical signs is needed to establish the diagnosis.

Severity of tremor and response to treatment can be assessed using clinical rating scales as well as using electrophysiological measurements. The treatment of tremor is symptomatic. Medications are effective in half the cases of essential hand tremor and in refractory patients; deep brain stimulation is an alternative therapy. Midline tremors benefit from botulinum toxin injections. It is also the treatment of choice in dystonic tremor and primary writing tremor.

In patients who present to a clinician, the tremor could be disabling. Hence, a systematic approach is needed to classify the tremor and identify the underlying etiology. Once the cause of the tremor is established, appropriate treatment can be started.

 

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