In last week’s article, we spoke about Parkinson’s Disease.  To recap, we discussed the early signs of Parkinson’s, including shoulder pain, lack of smell, and constipation.  This disease is usually not diagnosed until the patient begins to develop a hand tremor. However, keep in mind that if you have a hand tremor, it does not mean that you have Parkinson’s Disease. 

One of the ways doctors diagnose Parkinson’s Disease is through trial-and-error.  They will prescribe a patient Parkinson’s medication and if the tremor subsides, than they will diagnose that patient with Parkinson’s and continue to prescribe the medication. However, sometimes after too much use, the Parkinson’s medication causes another tremor in the face that appears even more severe than the Parkinson’s tremor, thus forcing the doctor to use another medication and then another medication. Now conversely, If the patient’s tremor does not get any better, then they rule out Parkinson’s Disease as the cause of the symptoms.

If Parkinson’s Disease is ruled out, the cause of the tremor may be diagnosed as an essential tremor. One way to help diagnose essential tremors is through alcohol consumption. If the tremor decreases in intensity after a couple of alcoholic drinks, then the patient is less likely to have Parkinson’s and more likely to have essential tremors.  However, we do not want patients drinking and abusing alcohol just to get rid of the tremor. The most common cause of essential tremors is stress. Therefore, it is best to eliminate some of the triggers. 

Stress worsens almost every medical condition. Stress management is vital to any movement disorder, especially in dealing with essential tremors.  There are many ways to reduce stress such as exercise, breathing, good nutrition, and restful sleep. You must move your body every day to help reduce stress and essential tremors. Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels. Having close relationships, supportive people in your life, and good communication techniques will help reduce stress levels as well.  It’s also important to have a job that you enjoy. You do not want to go to a workplace where you hate your boss, fight with your coworkers, do not feel fulfilled with the work, and have terrible hours. Scrolling through social media will also make you more stressed. Using electronics in general will stimulate cortisol which is the stress hormone that will only make essential tremors worse. I recommend a detox from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Start being more spiritual and spend more time in nature to reduce stress. All the techniques mentioned above are ones that you can start implementing to reduce your stress levels, thereby improving essential tremors.

If you have a tremor and the Parkinson’s medication does not work and alcohol does not help reduce the tremor either, you might have what’s called an intention tremor.  Intention tremors are usually seen while performing a certain action like eating, drinking, putting on makeup, brushing your hair, or writing. These tremors usually come from a different part of your brain called the cerebellum.  If your problems stem from this part of the brain and are causing your tremors, then you might also have some issues with balance and coordination. You may be more likely to drop things, trip over your feet,, roll over your ankle, slur your speech, lean off to one side while walking, suffer from brain fog, or have a low muscle tone.  The big difference between a Parkinson’s tremor and an intention tremor is that a Parkinson’s tremor is seen at rest and an intention tremor is seen while performing an action. If you have an intention or cerebellum type tremor, this can be helped with a process called neuroplasticity. With neuroplasticity you can actually rewire your brain with therapeutic exercises that are specific to that area of the brain and help to improve function.

It is important not to panic if you have a tremor.  Stressing about a tremor will most likely make it worse. There are many natural ways to improve your brain function and reduce tremors without harmful medications. I recommend a complete neurological evaluation to rule out any severe brain dysfunction. The first step is receiving the correct diagnosis. If you or someone you know has a hand tremor, head tremor, leg tremor, restless leg syndrome, a facial tremor, or even tics, it is important to have a complete physical.