• Gradual onset, usually more obvious on one side of the body
  • Begin in the hands first (one or both)
  • Can include a “yes-yes” or “no-no” motion of the head
  • Worsen with movement, emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine, or temperature extremes

Note that essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are different in 3 key ways:

  • Timing of tremors: essential tremor occurs when you are using your hands, whereas tremor from PD occurs when your hands are at rest.
  • Parts of body affected: essential tremor involves the hands, head, and voice; PD tremors involve hands, legs, chin, and other body parts.
  • Associated conditions: essential tremor typically does not cause health problems but may develop other neurological symptoms and signs (e.g. unsteady gait); PD is associated with stooped posture, slow movement, and shuffling gait.

Senior woman holding glass of water,hand shaking while drinking water,elderly patient with hands tremor uncontrolled body tremors,symptom of essential tremor

Causes and Risk Factors

  • About half of essential tremor cases result from an autosomal dominant disorder (familial tremor).
  • Age: more common in people age 40 or older.