Dr. Joon Faii Ong is a world-renowned authority on Essential Tremors, especially related to the hands. We reached out to him to discuss the background and mechanics of hand tremors and what patients can do to cope with them.
What Causes Hand Tremors?
While some tremors are caused by a lack of blood flow or muscle fatigue, the most common reason for having a tremor is Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s disease affects approximately 10 million people worldwide and 60,000 cases in the United States. This condition causes severe tremors, which can affect any part of the body, but most commonly affects the hands. The tremors are so bad that people find it incredibly difficult to do common tasks such as grabbing an object or even holding a cup of coffee steadily.
What is Essential Tremor?
Essential tremor does not have any specific cause and can be hereditary (passed down from parents). There is no treatment, but it can be managed with medication. In around 25% of cases, the tremor worsens as people get older, making everyday tasks more difficult. It is typically a fine tremor and starts from the hands before spreading to other body parts.
What are Hand Tremors?
Hand tremors are one of the more common symptoms of Essential Tremor. There are many reasons why you could develop these tremors, but most commonly, it is because of some sort of nerve damage or nerve problems that lead to your brain having difficulty controlling hand movements. When you have essential tremors, your brain tries to send signals to your hand, but it cannot control them properly.
Are Hand Tremors Debilitating?
As it stands, doctors are not sure of the exact definition of what makes a hand tremor debilitating or not. It can vary from person to person and how much they are affected by their tremors.
How do You Treat Hand Tremors?
There is no known cure for hand tremors, but there are ways to be managed. The most common way of managing them is through medication such as beta-blockers, which work to block the effects of adrenalin and reduce tremors. However, this type of treatment is temporary and can lead to more problems down the road. Another treatment method is surgery, but it is generally not recommended due to its invasive nature and risk.
What is the Long Term Prognosis for People with Hand Tremors?
The prognosis for hand tremors is generally positive. Tremors are not life-threatening, and there are many different ways in which they can be managed to allow people to continue with their everyday activities.
How Can You Manage Hand Tremors?
As previously mentioned, managing your tremors will involve both medication and physiotherapy. The most common physiotherapy method is a type of glove called a GyroGlove, which Dr. Ong developed.
Essential Tremor is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While it does not cause any pain, there are many ways in which you can manage tremors and get on with your day-to-day life. People who have Essential Tremors should speak with their doctor about different treatments and management options they can use.