Type your tag names separated by a space and hit enter

Essential Tremor Syndrome

Essential Tremor Syndrome is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

To view the entire topic, please or purchase a subscription.

Medicine Central™ is a quick-consult mobile and web resource that includes diagnosis, treatment, medications, and follow-up information on over 700 diseases and disorders, providing fast answers—anytime, anywhere. Explore these free sample topics:

Medicine Central

-- The first section of this topic is shown below --



  • A postural (occurring with voluntary maintenance of a position against gravity) or kinetic (occurring during voluntary movement) flexion–extension tremor that is slow and rhythmic and primarily affects the hands and forearms, head, or voice with a frequency of 4 to 12 Hz
  • Older patients tend to have lower frequency tremors, whereas younger patients exhibit frequencies in the higher range.
  • May be familial, sporadic, or associated with other movement disorders
  • Incidence and prevalence increase with age, but symptom onset can occur at any age.
  • The tremor can be intermittent and exacerbated by emotional or physical stressors, fatigue, and caffeine.
  • System(s) affected include neurologic, musculoskeletal, ear/nose/throat (ENT) (voice)


Essential tremor is the most common pathologic tremor in humans.

  • Can occur at any age but bimodal peaks exist in the 2nd and 6th decades
  • Incidence rises significantly after age 49 years.

The overall prevalence for essential tremor has been estimated between 0.4% and 0.9% but is increased in older patients with an estimated 4.6% at age 65 years and up to 22% at age 95 years.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Suspected to originate from an abnormal oscillation within thalamocortical and cerebello-olivary loops, as lesions in these areas tend to reduce essential tremor
  • Essential tremor is not a homogenous disorder; many patients have other motor manifestations and nonmotor features, including cognitive and psychiatric symptoms.

  • Positive family history in 50–70% of patients; autosomal dominant inheritance is demonstrated in many families with poor penetrance. Twin studies suggest that environmental factors are also involved.
  • A link to genetic loci exists on chromosomes 2p22–2p25, 3q13, and 6p23. In addition, a Ser9Gly variant in the dopamine D3 receptor gene on 3q13 has been suggested as a risk factor.

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Can be present in 10% of patients with Parkinson disease (PD); characteristics of PD that distinguish it from essential tremor include 3- to 5-Hz resting tremor; accompanying rigidity, bradykinesia, or postural instability; and no change with alcohol consumption
  • Patients with essential tremor have a 4% risk of developing PD.
  • Resting tremor, typically of the arm, may be seen in up to 20–30% of patients with essential tremor. Although action tremor is the hallmark feature of essential tremor, it is commonly found in patients with PD as well.

-- To view the remaining sections of this topic, please or purchase a subscription --


Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Essential Tremor Syndrome." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116221/all/Essential_Tremor_Syndrome.
Essential Tremor Syndrome. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116221/all/Essential_Tremor_Syndrome. Accessed March 22, 2019.
Essential Tremor Syndrome. (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116221/all/Essential_Tremor_Syndrome
Essential Tremor Syndrome [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 March 22]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116221/all/Essential_Tremor_Syndrome.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Essential Tremor Syndrome ID - 116221 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116221/all/Essential_Tremor_Syndrome PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -