Did you know that more than 7 million Americans suffer from an involuntary shaking of an area of their body? This involuntary shaking is known as an essential tremor, and it is the most common movement disorder in adults, affecting nearly one percent of the population worldwide. Below, we take a closer look at tremors and explain how to help reduce symptoms and treat tremors with physical therapy.
What Causes Essential Tremors?
Essential tremors are the result of a neurological disorder. There isn’t a lot known about the direct causes of essential tremors, but a number of factors can increase a person’s risk for developing a tremor. The most common risk factor for essential tremor onset is age, but then can also develop in younger patients. Other factors include:
- Being caucasian
- Having a family history of tremors
- Having a previous stroke
- Having previously diagnosed neurological issues
Essential tremors often get classified as a symptom of Parkinson’s, but it’s worth noting that these are two different conditions. An essential tremor is often classified as an action tremor, meaning it is most noticeable when someone is performing an action like moving a spoon or while writing. Parkinson’s patients tend to suffer from resting tremors, which are more noticeable when the patient attempts to remain still. So while they share some similarities in presentation and treatment, know that the tremors we are talking about are different than those that present with Parkinson’s.
Treating Essential Tremors
Treating essential tremors typically involves pursuing a couple different options concurrently. Medical science has made significant advancements in the past few decades, and they’ve developed a number of medications that can help reduce essential tremor severity in the majority of patients. With that said, treatment is not just going to involve medication. Your care team is also going to want to help strengthen and condition key muscle groups in the area. That’s where physical therapy comes in.
At OrthoRehab Specialists, we have a number of therapists who specialize in the treatment and functional improvement of essential tremors. Because these tremors can develop in a number of different areas of the body, including your hands, feet, head and even your voice, we have to be well-versed in treating your specific condition. Resistance training exercises are common as we target specific areas of your body to help with your tremors.
However, we also have to be very smart about how we help you treat your tremors. Many essential tremors are worsened by physical exhaustion, stress or certain daily habits like smoking or a poor diet, so there is also a significant education portion that goes into our therapy sessions. We also have to be careful about overloading the patient with physical exercises, because that can make the condition worse. We’re constantly performing baseline assessments and asking our patients how they are feeling about certain movements to see they get just the right amount of exercise to improve the area without overstressing it. Finally, we also take the time to answer any questions that patients may have to ensure we all stay on the same page throughout treatment.
So if you or someone you know has been dealing with an essential tremor or a noticeable shaking when performing certain actions, reach out to the therapy team at OrthoRehab Specialists today to learn how we can help reduce or eliminate these involuntary movements.