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Essential Tremor

Dr. Tao Xie and essential tremor patient Patrick O'BrienPatrick O'Brien's hands shook so much he could barely tie his own shoes. After deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, he's enjoying a greater quality of life -- without tremors.
» Read Patrick's story.

Essential tremor, also known as benign familial tremor, is the most common movement disorder. Characterized by uncontrollable shaking, essential tremor progresses slowly. It is distinctly different from Parkinson’s disease, although commonly misdiagnosed. Some patients may have essential tremor and PD.


  • Excessive shaking in hands
  • Tremor in voice
  • Tremor in neck
  • Difficulty with precise tasks (threading a needle)
  • Shaking in tongue
  • Shaking in arms
  • Inability to dress or feed yourself

Treatment plans for essential tremor may involve medication, surgery, or a combination of both. Initial treatment often includes propranolol or primidone, which are medications that have proven effective in about half of patients. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is a highly effective treatment option for patients who are eligible candidates.

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