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Who to See If You Have Shaky Hands?
Shaky hands are more commonly known as hand tremors. These hand tremors make everyday tasks much more difficult when compared to the average person. Usually, this involuntary movement is a good early warning sign that one may have an underlying neurological or degenerative condition (Healthline, 2018). Shaky hands are a symptom of and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) but more commonly od Essential Tremor (ET) (Healthline, 2018). Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurological disorder that affects movement starting from tremors in one hand to greater involuntary movement of the rest of the body (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Along with tremors PD also causes slowing down of movement resulting in stiffness of muscles (Mayo Clinic, 2018). The more common cause of shaky hands essential tremor is known as a neurological disorder that causes rhythmic shaking that will affect parts of the body (Mayo Clinic, 2017). The involuntary shaking associated with ET, however, occurs only in the hands (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
Seek Professional Help
If you are experiencing any involuntary hand movement issues it Is in your best interest to seek professional help. In such cases one should consult their family doctor first, treatments vary widely for specific tremors and therefore it is crucial that one allows a professional to diagnose and determine what the problem is that you are dealing with (Nazario, 2017).
General Practitioner (GP)
A family doctor or general practitioner is usually the first professional a patient will see when symptoms of shaky hands become a recurring event. It can be easily confused for other conditions as shaky hands is a common symptom in conditions such as Essential tremors, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Tourette syndrome, overactive thyroid, and neurological disorders (Staff, 2017). Early diagnosis can mean effective treatment hence it is important to get the right kind of help at the right time (Staff, 2017).
The general practitioner will start off with performing tests to look for possible causes of the shaky hands. These tests include blood tests, urine tests, neurological exam, and physical performance tests (Weill Cornell Medical College, 2018). The tests are used as a means to rule out other possible causes and determine the most accurate diagnosis (Weill Cornell Medical College, 2018). In a lot of cases, the family doctor may refer one to another specialist to receive better diagnosis outcomes.
A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves (Parkinson’s Canada, 2018). A referral is needed for access to a specialist of this nature. Neurologists will help further rule out conditions that are associated with shaky hands. For example, if one has Parkinson’s Disease there are no tests such as x-rays to confirm (Parkinson’s Canada, 2018). In this case, the neurologist would take the root of going through one’s family history of medical conditions and the associated linkage, perform a few tests, and a physical examination to once again rule out other conditions that are similar to Parkinson’s to make an accurate diagnosis (Parkinson’s Canada, 2018).
Occupational Therapist (OT)
In some cases where individuals are living in long term care (LTC) homes an Occupational therapy (OT) is the person who they deal with first. An OT is a professional who specializes in helping individuals with disabilities, illness or injury (Floyd, 2018). The OT will help individuals with all occupations, which are the functional activities someone participates in throughout their daily life such as, dressing, reading, eating, bathing, driving, and cooking (Floyd, 2018). When referring to an OT in association to shaky hands the OT may be the first to notice the symptom and get a doctor involved. Alternatively, if an individual does not reside in an LTC home or have access to an OT for daily services a doctor would be their first form of contact and may refer or suggest services of an OT as they may be helpful once an individual is diagnosed with a certain condition (Floyd, 2018). OT help to teach techniques and principles that may help make daily functioning for individuals with shaky hands from tremor or Parkinson’s easier (Floyd, 2018).
“I’ve done a good round of OT about 6 years ago and it was a wonderful experience. I was so appreciative of my Occupational Therapist. Thanks for answering our questions and being here for us. I am a photographer and have had to close down my business due mostly to my cognitive issues, but also due to my hand tremor that has progressively gotten worse. I continue to do my photography as a hobby (can never give it up!), but the brace I use is just not cutting it anymore. It is just one of those used for carpal tunnel syndrome, but I just used it for immobilizing my hand while holding my camera. The great part about my OT is that once I have been established at my Neurorehab center (which I have), I don’t have to wait for my neurologist to order it. I can call anytime and they can assess me and we can decide together whether I need it ” (MSWorld, 2016).
Naturopathic Doctors (NDs)
A naturopathic doctor is just like a conventional medicine doctor they both trained in a similar way and provide primary care to patients (Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, 2018). A naturopathic doctor, however, takes on more philosophical techniques where natural forms of medicine and associated therapies are utilized (Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, 2018). Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are known to treat their patients as an individual and address the physical, environmental, attitude changes, lifestyle and the emotional aspects of health (Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, 2018). The NDs then help to find and treat the cause of the illness or disease using various therapies.
“The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms of the disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, natural therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, may also be used during treatments” (Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, 2018a).
As a comparison, conventional doctors on the other hand, usually address and seek treatment for the symptoms of the disease at hand using pharmaceutical therapies or surgery (Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, 2018).
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Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors. (2018a). About Naturopathic Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.cand.ca/about-naturopathic-medicine/
Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors. (2018). Common Questions. Retrieved from https://www.cand.ca/common-questions-about-naturopathic-medicine/
Floyd, J. (2018). An Occupational Therapy Perspective. Retrieved from https://www.essentialtremor.org/coping/coping-with-et-articles/an-occupational-therapy-perspective/
Healthline. (2018). Shaking Hands: What Are My Treatment Options? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/treating-shaking-hands
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Essential tremor. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/essential-tremor/symptoms-causes/syc-20350534
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Parkinson’s disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055
MSWorld. (2016). Thread: OT/Hand Tremor. Retrieved from https://www.msworld.org/forum/showthread.php?111177-OT-Hand-Tremor
Nazario, B. (2017). Is there a treatment for shaky hands? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/brain/qa/is-there-a-treatment-for-shaky-hands
Parkinson’s Canada. (2018). Understanding Parkinson’s. Retrieved from https://www.parkinson.ca/about-parkinsons/understanding-parkinsons/
Staff, F. E. (2017). Essential Tremor. Retrieved from https://familydoctor.org/condition/essential-tremor/
Weill Cornell Medical College. (2018). Doctors Who Treat Essential Tremor. Retrieved from http://weillcornellbrainandspine.org/condition/essential-tremor/doctors-who-treat-essential-tremor