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

What happens in our brain when we unlock a door?

6 hours ago

People who are unable to button up their jacket or who find it difficult to insert a key in lock suffer from a condition known as apraxia. This means that their motor skills have been impaired – as a result ...

Sport can help multiple sclerosis patients

10 hours ago

A study developed at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (Spain) has preliminarily concluded that people with multiple sclerosis may reduce perceived fatigue and increase mobility through a series of ...

Obama's BRAIN initiative gets more than $300 million

15 hours ago

President Barack Obama's initiative to study the brain and improve treatment of conditions like Alzheimer's and autism was given a boost Tuesday with the announcement of more than $300 million in funds.

User comments