Essential Tremor: An Overview of This Neurological Condition from Dr. Ki Jung

At Carolina NeuroSurgery & Spine Associates, we regularly work with patients with essential tremor. To bring further awareness to this neurological condition, we spoke with neurologist Dr. Ki S. Jung to learn more from diagnosis to treatment and management. 

What is an Essential Tremor? 

Essential tremor is a neurological condition that causes abnormal movements of the extremities and sometimes the head and neck, however, the hands are most often involved. These tremors are called “action tremors,” as the tremor occurs during an activity of the hands or limbs.

There are two types of action tremors:

Postural Tremor 

Postural tremor is considered a tremor of activity. And yes, extending your arm and hand out and holding it still is an activity. You’re still activating muscles in your hand and arm to make this motion or hold this posture. 

Kinetic Tremor 

A kinetic tremor is also considered a tremor of activity. A kinetic tremor can be displayed when you actively use your hand to do something like handwriting, passing a plate, using utensils at meal times, or simply holding a cup or drink, and your hands shake or tremor.

Often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease, action tremors are distinctly different. The main difference in Parkinson’s disease tremors is that tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease are rhythmic, resting tremors. This means that your hand may tremor rhythmically whenever it is at rest and not being used. Often times, Parkinson’s disease has other additional symptoms, such as balance issues, shuffling gait, slowness in movements, and stooped posture, whereas essential tremor does not.

How is Essential Tremor Diagnosed? 

Essential tremor is diagnosed primarily based on clinical examination. There are a few tests that a neurologist can run to make sure there is no other medical reason for the shaking or tremor. For example, an overactive thyroid condition can cause shakiness and tremors in people. So it is recommended to have blood work and testing done to have this ruled out. 

Unfortunately, no specific blood test or scan can specifically diagnose essential tremor. It is a clinical diagnosis, which means a diagnosis that is made based on clinical symptoms and examination.

How is Essential Tremor Treated? 

There are various lifestyle changes, medications, medical devices, and now brain surgeries that can help reduce the severity of these tremors. 

There is no cure for essential tremor, but surgical treatments such as deep brain stimulation are designed to help reduce the severity and intensity of the tremor so that the person can function better with the affected limb.

How can specialists at Carolina NeuroSurgery & Spine Associates Help?  

Since neurologists are experts in the nervous system and disorders of the nervous system, they are the specialists who can diagnose and recommend treatment options for these tremors. 

Neurologists have the knowledge and training to diagnose and treat such tremors utilizing various lifestyle modifications, medications, devices, and brain surgeries to help. 

Neurologist Dr. Jung works closely with CNSA neurosurgeons skilled at performing deep brain stimulator surgery, the most common surgical intervention for essential tremors. We are proud to provide a multidisciplinary approach to essential tremor diagnosis, management and intervention.  

About our Neurology Services

Neurology involves the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders regarding the central and peripheral nervous systems, including strokes, headaches, numbness/tingling, and seizures. Board-certified and fellowship-trained neurologist Ki Jung, MD, provides neurology care at our Huntersville/Lake Norman office. Dr. Jung has more than 18 years of experience helping patients with neurological disorders and has earned an outstanding reputation in the region. 

Our Neurology services are offered in our Huntersville office and include the evaluation and treatment of:

● Migraines
● Chronic daily headaches
● Hemifacial spasms
● Seizures
● Syncope or blackout spells
● Strokes and TIAs
● Restless legs syndrome
● Dizziness and vertigo
● Limb pain
● Numbness/tingling
● Pins/needles sensations
● Carpal tunnel syndrome
● Myopathies (muscle weakness/pain)
● Radiculopathies (pinched nerves)
● Movement disorders
● Tremors/Parkinson’s disease
● Memory disorders/Alzheimer’s disease
● Multiple Sclerosis

On-site diagnostic services at our Huntersville/Lake Norman office:

● Electroencephalography (EEG) – Brainwave testing
● Electromyography (EMG) – Needle muscle testing
● Nerve Conductions Studies (NCS) – Nerve testing

All NCS and EMG studies are personally performed and interpreted by Dr. Jung and his clinical team. Dr. Jung is fellowship-trained in neuro-diagnostic testing and specifically board-certified in clinical neurophysiology.

Please call the Huntersville office at 704-831-4145 or fax a referral to 704-831-4143 to make an appointment or to submit a referral for any diagnostic testing. (A prior neurological consultation is not required to have an EEG, EMG/NCS.)

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New and current patients can call our offices to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

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