Essential tremor is considered the most common neurologic movement disorder, that is 20 times more prevalent than Parkinson's disease.
Essential tremor is a chronic condition characterized by involuntary, rhythmic tremor of a body part, most typically the hands and arms.
Essential tremor is considered a slowly progressive disorder and, in some people, may eventually involve the head, voice, tongue (with associated dysarthria), legs, and trunk.
However, in many people, the disorder may be relatively non-progressive. The tremor may be mild throughout life.
Tremor may be most visible when people maintain a fixed position. In some patients, the tremor may worsen upon performance tasks. People most often describe this feeling as a general "shakiness" or a vibrating sensation in the body.
Hand tremor may cause difficulties with writing, drinking fluids from a glass or cup, eating, sewing, applying makeup, shaving, or dressing.
In individuals with essential tremor, the next most frequently affected area of the body is the head, followed by the voice, tongue, legs, or trunk. These tremors may occur in isolation or along with tremor of the hands or arms. People find that tremors usually disappear during sleep.
The psychosocial effects of essential tremor may be embarrassing and debilitating. Essential tremor may eventually affect the patient's ability to perform certain work-related tasks; interfere with activities of daily living; or lead to withdrawal from social activities and interactions due to embarrassment. For some people with essential tremor, other symptoms may also be present such as unsteady, uncoordinated walking.