Intention Tremor vs. Essential Tremor

Are you aware that not all tremors are identical? Essential tremor and intention tremor are two distinct conditions, and it's crucial to recognize the difference between them. If you're experiencing tremors, it doesn't necessarily mean you have either of these conditions. Read on to learn more about intention tremor vs essential tremor, their causes, and available treatments.


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Differentiating Essential Tremor and Intention Tremor

Essential Tremor Explained

Essential tremor is a neurological disorder characterized by rhythmic and involuntary shaking. It can affect nearly any body part, with symptoms often most prominent in the hands. Simple tasks such as tying shoelaces or drinking from a glass may exacerbate the tremor.

Although not dangerous, essential tremor can progress over time and typically appears during or after people reach their 40s. The cause remains unknown, but it is believed to involve miscommunication between the cerebellum and other brain areas. Essential tremor is hereditary, meaning there's a 50% chance your children will inherit the responsible genes if you have this disorder.

Intention Tremor Explained

Intention tremor is characterized by involuntary and rhythmic muscle contractions during purposeful, voluntary movements. The tremor's amplitude worsens as the movement proceeds, increasing in intensity once a target is reached.

This condition results from cerebellum dysfunction, specifically in the lateral zone on the same side as the tremors. Depending on the cerebellar damage location, intention tremors can be unilateral or bilateral (affecting one or both sides of the body).

Understanding the Causes

The cause of essential tremor differs from that of intention tremor. Essential tremor's exact cause remains unknown, while the most common cause of intention tremor is multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder that disrupts communication between the brain and body parts.

Other intention tremor causes include cerebellum dysfunction (cerebellar tremor) and trauma to the midbrain or stroke, resulting in benign intention tremors.


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Diagnosing Essential Tremor and Intention Tremor

Essential tremor diagnosis involves physical and neurological examinations. Doctors may need to rule out other conditions that cause trembling or shaking, such as hyperthyroidism. Recommended steps to rule out other potential causes include avoiding or reducing certain medications, caffeine, and heavy alcohol use.

Intention tremor diagnosis typically requires a complete neurological examination and evaluation of your medical history. Tests like the heel-to-shin and finger-to-nose tests may be performed. Additional assessments, such as gait abnormality, reviewing past medications, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), echocardiograms, blood tests, and nerve conduction studies, may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

Available Treatments

Various treatment options can help alleviate essential tremor and intention tremor symptoms. While no cure exists for essential tremor treatments can slow the progression in most cases. For individuals with mild symptoms, no treatment may be necessary. However, severe cases may require medications like beta-blockers or blood pressure medications, physical therapy, botox injections, or surgery, including stereotactic radiosurgery and deep brain stimulation.

Intention tremor treatment focuses on addressing the underlying cause. Simple treatments may suffice for minor tremors, such as discontinuing medications suspected of causing the tremors. Supportive treatments like wearing wrist weights, physical therapy, positioning and relaxation techniques, and gait rehabilitation can help improve functionality. Invasive procedures like radiosurgery and thalamic deep brain stimulation may be necessary for multiple sclerosis-induced tremors.

In Conclusion

Essential tremors and intention tremors differ in various ways and can be diagnosed by observing muscle oscillations during a physical examination. Essential tremor muscle oscillations are slower and resemble zigzag movements.

Essential tremor often affects the upper limb structures, as well as the vocal cords or head. Anxiety and attempting to complete tasks can exacerbate essential tremor symptoms for some individuals.

In summary, if you suspect you may be experiencing an essential tremor or intention tremor, it's crucial to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. One innovative solution is the Steadi-Two from Steadiwear, a glove designed to reduce hand tremors and improve life satisfaction. To learn more about the Steadi-Two, consider subscribing to their newsletter mailing list.


Learn more about the Steadi-Two- a revolutionary glove designed to reduce hand tremors.

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  • Pete H

    I have had essential tremors since I was eight years old when officially diagnosed. I am now 53, and it’s a progressive disease. Over time, it has increased and decreased my abilities to function in normal daily activities. My underlining cause is a genetic syndrome, which I have had since birth; however, it was not officially recognized until age 43. I have tried a dozen medications throughout my life and am not taking any since I like to be alive and understand my daily life. I love the quality of life more than any drug. At this stage, there is no way they are cutting my head open to implant anything. I continue in life and enjoy the time I have left, and when it’s over, it’s over. We are all destined to die; however, I plan to enjoy my time here while I still can drug and mechanical-free.

  • Feather Hicks

    I have essential tremors as far as I have been told. tremors are in the hands and a possibly the arm. I have had this since I was late 30’s, early 40’s and has only gotten worse. I am 75 now . I have been looking for a simple solution without all the medicine which I am very sensitive to. The Steadiwear 2 would be ideal since I paint or try to. However, I am petite and my hand size is 7 inches. Will this work for me? or is there a way to improvise? Appreciate a response…it is getting worse . Thank you so much. As soon as you can tell me I will get one ordered.

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