What is Tremor?

Essential Tremor

Essential Tremor is considered one of the most common neurological movement disorders and is estimated to be eight to 10 times more prevalent than Parkinson's disease.  People exhibit a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, legs, trunk and/or voice.  It can afflict persons of any age, gender and race and in the vast majority of all cases it is inherited.  While more commonly noticed in older individuals, essential tremor can begin as early as birth.

Orthostatic Tremor

Orthostatic tremor is a condition that involves the unintentional rhythmic muscle movement of one or more parts of the body.  It usually occurs when a person is standing upright. It is seen as progressive condition.


According to The Dystonia Societythe term is used to describe uncontrollable and sometimes painful muscle spasms caused by incorrect signals from the brain. It is estimated to affect at least 70,000 people in the UK. There are a large number of different types of dystonia which affect people in widely differing ways. Unfortunately there is not yet a cure.

Types of tremor

There are many different types of tremor that affect people in different ways. The table below shows the different types and characteristics.

Type of tremor

Rest tremor


  • Tremor which occurs when the muscles are not being voluntarily moved.
  • Normally when the limb is moved, the tremor will weaken or disappear.
  • Like all tremors, it will get worse when stressed or anxious.
  • Rest tremor is quite separate from other tremors. It is most commonly found in Parkinson's disease.

Action tremor or kinetic

  • A tremor which occurs when the limb or body part is being moved. 

Postural tremor

  • Found when while maintaining a position such as out stretching your arm.

Kinetic tremor

  • Occurs when moving a body part.

Intention tremor

  • Tremor becomes worsens when the limb is guided to move towards a particular body part.

Task specific

  • A tremor which occurs only with specific tasks or activities. 
  • An example of this is primary writing tremor, which occurs mainly when writing.

Idopathic dystonic tremor

  • It occurs in conjunction with dystonia.
  • Dystonic tremor can affect multiple body parts. Most commonly affected are the hands, head and occasionally voice.
  • Dystonic hand tremor is also described as “Writer’s cramp”.
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