The 3 Most Common Causes of Shaking

If your hands tremble, you might immediately think of Parkinson’s disease, but there are many causes of shaking hands. In fact, most people have a tremor in their hands, though it may only be noticeable when they hold their arms straight out in front of them.

Although tremors most commonly appear in hands, they also occur in the head, torso, legs, arms — and even in the vocal cords, where they present as a shaky voice. Tremors can be intermittent or constant; they can occur when the muscles are relaxed, called resting tremors;  or while the muscles are moving, called action tremors. And, although they can occur at any age, they usually appear in people who are middle-aged or older.

Tremors may have a neurological cause, or be a symptom of a movement disorder or other condition.

The following are the top 3 types of tremors:

1. Neurological conditions

These include:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Tremors occur when the disease affects nerves that control movement. Tremors are a common symptom of MS.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD): More than a quarter of Parkinson’s sufferers have either an action tremor or a resting tremor in one hand. Tremors due to Parkinson’s usually start in just one limb, or on just one side of the body, and “spread” from there. Stress, fatigue, or even strong emotion can exacerbate the tremor.

Brain Injuries: Whether caused by physical injury or stroke, an injury to the brain can lead to tremors.

2. Movement disorders

These include:

Essential tremor, an action tremor which occurs on both sides of the body but is most obvious in the dominant hand. Essential tremors have a strong genetic component.

Dysytonic tremor, a condition in which messages from the brain cause muscles to jerk, often forcefully.

3. Psychological factors

Psychogenic tremors, also known as functional tremors, increase with stress, and are often associated with an underlying psychiatric disorder, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although tremors are not life-threatening, they do affect quality of life. Depending on the type of tremor, a variety of medications and lifestyle changes, such as reducing caffeine intake, can help someone bring their tremor under control.

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