AAN releases updated guideline for treating essential tremor

The American Academy of Neurology is releasing an updated guideline on how to best treat essential tremor, which is the most common type of tremor disorder and is often confused with other movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. The guideline is published in the October 19, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Essential tremor affects the hands, head and voice and can be disabling for the estimated 10 million people in the United States living with the disorder. Essential tremor usually starts after age 40, although symptoms can appear at any age and may cause problems with daily activities such as eating, writing, sewing or shaving.

According to the guideline, the high blood pressure drug propranolol and the drug primidone, which is used to treat seizures, are the most effective at improving shaking in people with essential tremor. The guideline also found the seizure drugs gabapentin and topiramate, along with the drugs atenolol and sotalol and the anxiety drug alprazolam, can be helpful.

"More and better research is needed since not all people with essential tremor benefit from these drugs," said lead guideline author Theresa A. Zesiewicz, MD, with the University of South Florida in Tampa and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "For people who are not benefitting from these drugs, it's important they work with their neurologist to explore other types of treatments."

The guideline found two types of , and thalamotomy, may be helpful in treating essential tremor for those patients who do not benefit from drug treatment.

In addition, there was weak evidence to show the high and nimodipine, as well as the seizure drug clonazepam and A, may be helpful in treating people with essential tremor.

This updated guideline differs from the Academy's 2005 guideline in that it does not recommend using the seizure drugs levetiracetam and flunarizine or the drug 3,4-diaminopyridine (used in rare muscle diseases) to treat tremors of the arms and legs. In addition, the updated guideline found insufficient evidence to support using clozapine, a drug used to treat schizophrenia, to help people with essential tremor.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

AAN guideline evaluates treatments for muscle cramps

Feb 22, 2010

A new guideline from the American Academy of Neurology recommends that the drug quinine, although effective, should be avoided for treatment of routine muscle cramps due to uncommon but serious side effects. The guideline ...

Recommended for you

New viral tools for mapping brains

17 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—A brain-computer-interphase that is optogenetically-enabled is one of the most fantastic technologies we might envision today. It is likely that its full power could only be realized under ...

Link seen between seizures and migraines in the brain

Oct 30, 2014

Seizures and migraines have always been considered separate physiological events in the brain, but now a team of engineers and neuroscientists looking at the brain from a physics viewpoint discovered a link ...

Neuroscience: Why scratching makes you itch more

Oct 30, 2014

Turns out your mom was right: Scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that scratching causes the brain to release ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.