Essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of your body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands — especially when you do simple tasks, such as drinking from a glass or tying shoelaces.

Essential tremor is usually not a dangerous condition, but it typically worsens over time and can be severe in some people. Other conditions don't cause essential tremor, although essential tremor is sometimes confused with Parkinson's disease.

Essential tremor can occur at any age but is most common in people age 40 and older.


Essential tremor signs and symptoms:

Many people associate tremors with Parkinson's disease, but the two conditions differ in key ways:


There are no medical tests to diagnose essential tremor. Diagnosing it is often a matter of ruling out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms. To do this, your health care provider may suggest the following tests:

If the preceding tests leave uncertainty of whether your tremor is essential tremor or Parkinson's disease, a dopamine transporter scan can help differentiate between the two types of tremor.