Does Essential Tremor Show Up on MRI?
Technology has always been there for us at our time of need. Whether it’s on the laptops we use for work, the mobile phones we use to communicate with each other, or our TVs that keep us entertained after a long and tiring day. But most importantly it is the high-tech machines developed that help humankind in finding cures for deadly diseases, and remedies that will help ease any virus symptoms. Also, some inventions like the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can really help in diagnosing some diseases that a person might encounter.
But the real question is, can an MRI scan tell if you have Essential Tremor?
Why are we mentioning this disorder in particular? Well first let’s go over a little information about what Essential tremor is.
What is Essential Tremor?According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders:
Essential Tremor is a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It’s almost similar to Parkinson’s syndrome but differs in many ways. Essential tremor causes your hands and sometimes most parts of your body to shake in a constant and uncontrollable way. Most often, this effect only occurs to your hands when you do simple tasks like holding up a glass to drink or trying to write on a piece of paper. The tremble effect starts to take action as you lift the glass of water, and it’s difficult not to spill the water as you do so. The tremble might also start while writing which makes it almost impossible to keep a steady line.
On the other hand, essential tremor is not usually a dangerous or deadly disease, but what you should know is that it does get worse as time passes and it also can be severe to some people. It can also be confused with Parkinson’s disease for some of the symptoms are somewhat similar.
Furthermore, essential tremor is most commonly found among people between the ages of 40 or older, but it’s possible to be found at younger ages as well.
Symptoms of Essential Tremor:
- Hand shaking and tremors: As we explained, essential tremor most likely affects your hands the most. You may find yourself trying hard to maintain the teacup from spilling in your hand or aggressively trying to maintain a steady hand while writing. Mainly when doing simple tasks with your hands you will find these kinds of symptoms occurring.
- Tremble and shiver in your voice: You may also experience a slight tremor in your voice as you speak, whereas your voice might uncontrollably increase or decrease in volume and also twitch in some areas of speech.
- Constant head nodding: This symptom means that you might experience a spontaneous nodding action occurring with your head that can’t be controlled. Your head might nod in a yes or no form.
- Tremor and shaking in legs or feet: This symptom rarely happens for it is commonly known and scientifically proven that essential tremor affects the hands first and might then affect the entire body in some cases. If you feel an uncontrollable shake in your legs or feet then know that your essential tremor has worsened.
What Causes Essential Tremor?There’s no defined or definite cause for this neurological condition, but there are numerous theories and hypotheses around the true nature and origins of this disorder. The most relative and debated ones now are that essential tremor is caused by a genetic mutation that comes from exposure to toxic components, or that it can be passed on from one generation to the other. But till now these are only theories that are yet to be proven and until now it’s still unclear what causes this condition.
Now that we have given a brief overview of what essential tremor is, let’s explain what an MRI is so that we can have a better understanding of this machine and if it can truly detect essential tremor.
What Is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan?
According to Medical News Today:
MRI scanning is a non-invasive and painless procedure where it uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body. The scanner resembles a large tube with a table in the middle, allowing patients to slide in easily and start the process. The MRI scanner differs from other scanning machines for it doesn’t use any potentially harmful ionizing radiation.
In more detailed form – an MRI scanner contains two powerful magnets that are very essential in diagnosing the condition of the patient. One magnet controls the molecules inside the human body by making them align in one direction (molecules are usually randomly aligned in the body). Whereas the other magnet acts as an on and off switch that returns that molecule to its original form. This process of changing the alignment of the molecules allows the associated computer to get a detailed image for your doctor.
What can an MRI scanner be used for?
Typically, it is used to find out a lot of things about a person’s body and in any part too.
Here are a few examples of what might come up on an MRI scan:
● Anomalies of the brain and spinal cord.
● Tumors, cysts, and other anomalies in various parts of the body.
● Breast cancer screening for women who have a predisposition to the disease.
● Injuries or abnormalities of the joints, such as the back and knee.
● Certain types of heart problems.
● Diseases of the liver and other abdominal organs.
● And more….
With science and technology, we are able to detect and hopefully cure some diseases.
Which brings us to our main question of this article.
Can an MRI scan detect Essential Tremor?According to Neuravive:
Technically no. Essential tremor won’t show up on an MRI scan because getting a definitive diagnosis is a little more complicated. However, blood tests and other imaging tests help rule out other conditions that might resemble essential tremor. This process in some cases might help the doctor not to mistakenly diagnose the patient with Parkinson’s disease, knowing that these two conditions have some similarities. So unfortunately, there are no brain scans that can show what is exactly causing essential tremor.
How can Essential Tremor be diagnosed?
Since an MRI scan is no help in finding out if you have essential tremor, are there any other procedures that can diagnose this condition?
Well, in some cases it is based on the identification of characteristic symptoms, as mentioned above, a detailed patient history (just to rule out any other conditions that might resemble essential tremor), and a discreet clinical evaluation is taken place to determine if the symptoms you have are true of essential tremor. These might help in identifying the condition but it’s not always accurate.
On the other hand, some scientists have concentrated on what might be the causes of this condition which could ultimately help in its diagnosis. One of the main theories that scientists have been researching is that it is a disorder caused by an imbalance or dysfunction of the cells that produce the GABA molecule.
Basically, what the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) molecule does is that it controls your brain activity by binding with receptors of a nerve cell making it easier for you to take control over your body when put in certain conditions like fear. What scientists believe is that a decrease in the number of the GABA molecule might be the reason behind essential tremor. Nevertheless, this still maintains to be a theory and not yet proven, but as a matter of fact, technology and science have been growing and improving rapidly nowadays and there’s no doubt that soon we might be able to detect this condition easily and hopefully find a cure in the near future.
Solutions for Essential TremorThere are many psychological ways to handle this kind of condition that might include seeing a professional therapist every once in a while. But what’s truly eye-catching and extraordinary is the essential tremor glove from us at Steadiwear.
Our Steadi-One glove does not require a battery, and has a smart fluid that stiffens and works together with a counter-weight that moves in the opposite direction of your tremor. It's a tremendous, alternative solution for essential tremor that will definitely help with the uncontrollable shaking.
Technology has truly been by our side and has really helped mankind in many ways. Have faith in what science can do and hopefully we will live in a better non-toxic virus free world.
Neuravive: Sperling Neurosurgery Associates
Medical News Today
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)