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Essential tremor (ET) is a disorder of the nervous system that causes rhythmic shaking of the hands, arms, legs, head, trunk, and voice. While these are cardinal signs of ET, there are also other symptoms of ET that go unnoticed or are less talked about. For example, 55% of people with ET experience internal tremors — tremors that happen inside the body, that produce a quivering sensation felt in the arms, legs, chest, or abdomen.
External tremors associated with ET are those that you can see when someone with ET is trying to pour a cup of water, for example. While internal tremors are not as life-altering, they can still feel incredibly unpleasant. Because they aren’t visible, internal tremors can be difficult to describe to friends, family, or physicians.
So you may be wondering, “what causes internal tremors?”
While the cause of internal tremors is not well understood, it is likely that internal tremors associated with ET are caused by nerve damage in areas of the brain that control muscle movement. Sometimes, people who experience internal tremors also have other sensory symptoms, including muscle aches and burning, and tingling sensations felt throughout the body. For some people, internal tremors are the first symptoms of a movement disorder, and the onset of external tremors begin in the later stages of their disease progression.
Treatment options for internal tremors are similar to those for external tremors, and often include medication, deep brain stimulation (DBS), or surgeries. Many people with ET also take advantage of assistive technologies, like the Steadi-Two — an assistive device designed to reduce hand tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease and Essential tremor. If you would like to learn more about the Steadi-Two or order yours today, click HERE!
In addition, there are various lifestyle changes that can be adopted in order to reduce internal tremors. If you are experiencing internal tremors, try these:
Try to reduce stress and anxiety
Stress can cause muscle tension, which can intensify an internal tremor, and make it more severe. Everyone has different ways of reducing stress, and it is important to find what works for you in order to minimize your internal tremors. Some ways to reduce stress include participating in daily workouts or meditation practices, surrounding yourself with loved ones, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Avoid Caffeine and other dietary stimulants
Caffeine can cause a jittery effect on the body, and for people with ET, these jitters can contribute to internal tremor sensations. Caffeine stimulates the “flight or fight” response, which can increase anxiety and cause feelings of panic. As such, it is a good idea to steer clear of caffeine if you are trying to reduce your internal tremors. Some other dietary stimulants include energy drinks, processed meats, sugary drinks, and candy.
Avoid Intense exercise
Engaging in mild-moderate physical activities can be a great way to relieve stress. However, intense physical activity can make tremors worse. During intense exercise, your muscles rapidly alternate between contractions and relaxation, which can result in tremors. Some exercises that are less intense, and suitable for someone with ET include brisk walks, yoga, or meditation.
If you are experiencing internal tremors, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have ET. Many people experience internal shakes at times, which can be linked to anxiety. However, internal tremors could be an indication of ET, or another movement disorder like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. If you are experiencing internal tremors, it is a good idea to visit your doctor and discuss possible causes of your tremor.
Excellent article Juliet. Internal tremors are almost never addressed in literature. Those of us experiencing them find them distressing at times but as they aren’t visible, people around us are not aware of our distress.