Medication & treatments

Medical treatment

The currently available medical treatments for essential tremor are symptomatic and not curative. This means that the severity of essential tremor can be decreased by medication but that the tremor will not be cured. There is no medication that will permanently remove essential tremor from a person who is affected by it. 

Initial treatment

Initially many patients prefer to receive treatment for essential tremor intermittently and not regularly.

The occasional use of alcohol, propranalol, primidone or benzodiazepines (clonazepam) for high stress situations, such as  social events or work engagements, is common.

Continuous treatment

There are a number of option available for continuous treatment. People could be prescribed with:

  1. Propranolol
  2. Primidone
  3. Topiramate
  4. Gabapentin
  5. Atenolol
  6. Sotalo
  7. Clonazepam
  8. Nadolol
  9. Diazepam

Botulinum toxin treatment is sometimes considered for head or voice tremors.

Can I drink alcohol?

Alcohol will temporarily improve the tremor in 50% of people. Typically 2 units of alcohol (roughly one pint or one small glass of wine) will suppress essential tremor for about 4 hours. However, there is often a rebound that worsens the tremor the next morning.

Surgery and tremor

Surgical intervention in essential tremor has been used for over 50 years, and is used for those patients who have particularly severe/disabling tremor and do not respond to medication.

About 50% of severely affected essential tremor patients have medication-resistant symptoms or are intolerant to medication, so that brain surgery is an option. In order to alleviate tremor in a patient’s right arm, surgery is performed on the left side of the brain and vice versa for the left arm. 

  • The main risks of this type of surgery, when performed in a neurosurgical centre by a specialist functional neurosurgeon, are a 1/1000 risk of death
  • 3% risk of a bleed within the skull
  • 1% risk of a stroke.
Success of surgery
  • Long-term studies have shown that tremor control can be maintained for up to six years after deep brain stimulation.
  • The effects of deep brain stimulation on the patient’s thought processes, mood state and quality of life after up to 6 years are mainly positive.

Focused Ultrasound

MRgFUS, or Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused UltraSound, is an incisionless procedure for the treatment of Essential Tremor

MRgFUS, or Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused UltraSound, is a safe, cost effective and incisionless procedure for the treatment of essential tremor. Trials have been shown to deliver similar patient outcomes to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), often in an outpatient setting, and NHS England has now determined that this should also be available as an NHS service.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies can really help both carers of people with tremor and those who suffer with tremor. 

Complementary therapies can be useful, although not a guaranteed that any complementary therapy works and will help you. You should of course consult with relevant professionals before embarking on any therapy.


Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for thousands of years


An ancient Indian, natural system of medicine that has been practised for over 5,000 years

Massage therapy

People have used massage since ancient times and there are many different types of massage, from traditions around the world

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient martial art originating in the Far East which is now practised as a defence against the stresses and strains of daily life

Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique aims to improve movement, posture, balance and coordination, through correcting movement habits to reduce stress and tension in your muscles


Based on the principle that there is a universal energy which can be used for the purpose of restoring harmony, balance and health

Nordic walking

Nordic walking is a full-body exercise that's easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels


Yoga is a Hindu system of philosophy that harmonises the body, mind and spirit to promote health and inner peace


Essential oils have chemical properties that can have all sorts of effects on both mind and body


Hydrotherapy is the use of water to maintain health and prevent disease


Reflexology is a precisely defined form of treatment based on the principle that the anatomy of the body is reflected in miniature on reflex zones on the feet

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