Caring for the patient with essential tremor
Key learning points
- Essential tremor is common and can be disabling
- It is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis when there are so many causes of tremor, therefore it is important that patients are referred for a comprehensive medical assessment
- Patients need support and information, as they will worry that the tremor is linked to other neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease
This article discusses the prevalence and symptoms of essential tremor (ET). It is the most common neurological disorder and yet so little is known or written about it. It's about eight times more common than Parkinson’s disease and yet it can be mistaken for it. The subject needs to be discussed and recognised, so people who suffer with ET receive the best quality of care and are less likely to become depressed and socially isolated.
There is little information available for those with varying degrees of ET. Patients worry about their condition because they may have no information about how the symptoms may progress or whether they will be diagnosed with something more serious and life threatening.
There is information available on conditions like Parkinson’s disease, yet ET is about eight times more common than Parkinson’s. Patients need to be encouraged not to hide their symptoms or be embarrassed that they shake at times.
Healthcare professionals need to show they care and demonstrate an understanding of what life might be like for those with the condition. There will be a whole spectrum of situations encountered; from ET being a slight annoyance to it becoming debilitating and stopping a person continuing a particular career and/or way of life.