Successful treatments for essential tremor

It is thought that around 4% of adults in the UK are diagnosed with essential tremor but this number could be much higher due to patients being misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Both are neurological conditions, but whilst essential tremor is typically limited to the effect it has on movements and daily activities, Parkinson’s disease affects a number of cognitive and behavioural abilities.

Treatments for essential tremor include a variety of oral medications but research has found these to have a number of side effects which can often outweigh the benefits. Risk factors for essential tremor include stress and caffeine and in order to ease the shaking patients are encouraged to limit these, although this will not be able to cure the tremor.

Mr Joshua Rosenow, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the USA has written that the new treatment Deep Brain Stimulation is “…tremendously effective, often much more so than medications… it acts as a ‘pacemaker’ for the brain and helps control the tremor.” It involves implanting an electrode into the patient’s brain to send tiny electrical impulses which affect the nervous signals and stop the tremor from occurring. The treatment, part of a range of neurological treatments known as neuromodulation, can also be used to treat Parkinson’s disease and dystonia and trials are currently underway to see if brain stimulation can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, depression and epilepsy.

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