Rare Medical News

Disease Profile

Essential tremor

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.



US Estimated


Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Benign essential tremor; Presenile tremor syndrome; Familial essential tremor;


Nervous System Diseases


Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder. It is characterized by involuntary and rhythmic shaking (tremor), especially in the hands, without any other signs or symptoms. It is distinguished from tremor that results from other disorders or known causes, such as tremors seen with Parkinson disease or head trauma.[1][2] Most cases of essential tremor are hereditary. There are five forms of essential tremor that are based on different genetic causes. Several genes as well as lifestyle and environmental factors likely play a role in a person's risk of developing this complex condition.[1] In mild cases, treatment may not be necessary. In cases where symptoms interfere with daily living, medications may help to relieve symptoms.[3] 




The causes of essential tremor are unknown. Researchers are studying several areas (loci) on particular chromosomes that may be linked to essential tremor, but no specific genetic associations have been confirmed. Several genes, as well as environmental factors, are likely involved in an individual's risk of developing this complex condition.[1]


Treatment for essential tremor may not be necessary unless the tremors interfere with daily activities or cause embarrassment.[3] Although there is no definitive cure for essential tremor, medicines may help relieve symptoms.[2][3] How well medicines work depend on the individual patient.[3] Two medications used to treat tremors include:[2][3]

  • Propranolol, a drug that blocks the action of stimulating substances called neurotransmitters, particularly those related to adrenaline
  • Primidone, an antiseizure drug that also control the function of some neurotransmitters

These drugs can have significant side effects.[3]

Eliminating tremor "triggers" such as caffeine and other stimulants from the diet is often recommended. Physical therapy may help to reduce tremor and improve coordination and muscle control for some patients.[2]

More details about the management of essential tremor can be accessed through the Mayo Clinic and Medscape.


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

    • MayoClinic.com provides information about essential tremor. Click on the link to view this information.
    • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
    • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Essential tremor. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
    • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
    • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

      In-Depth Information

      • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
      • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) lists the subtypes and associated genes for Essential tremor in a table called Phenotypic Series. Each entry in OMIM includes a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
      • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Essential tremor. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. Essential tremor. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). June 2013; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/essential-tremor.
        2. NINDS Essential Tremor Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). April 25, 2013; https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Essential-Tremor-Information-Page.
        3. Essential tremor. MedlinePlus. 2014; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000762.htm.
        4. Essential tremor. MayoClinic.com. 2013; https://www.mayoclinic.com/print/essential-tremor/DS00367/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all.

        Rare Medical News

        fascinating Rare disease knowledge right in your inbox
        Subscribe to receive