AAN releases updated guideline for treating essential tremor

October 19, 2011

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.

Explore further: Most patients stop drugs for essential tremor after deep brain stimulation surgery

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists survey the state of sleep science

February 22, 2017

Sleep remains an enduring biological mystery with major clinical relevance, according to a review by clinician-researcher Thomas Scammell, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and colleagues. In recent decades, ...

Itch neurons play a role in managing pain

February 22, 2017

There are neurons in your skin that are wired for one purpose and one purpose only: to sense itchy things. These neurons are separate from the ones that detect pain, and yet, chemical-induced itch is often accompanied by ...

Education does not protect against cognitive decline

February 22, 2017

A European-wide study published today in the journal Neuroepidemiology has found that whilst older people with a higher level of education have better memory function, it does not protect them from cognitive decline as they ...

0 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.