Essential Tremor: The Most Common (And Least Known) Movement Disorder

Essential Tremor
Print icon

Essential tremor, the most common adult movement disorder, affects nearly 10 million people in the United States. That’s more than 2 percent of the population.

Here’s a Q/A with Dr. Duarte Machado, co-director of Hartford HealthCare’s David and Rhoda Chase Family Movement Disorders Center:

Q. For something so common, many people may not know what it means to have essential tremors. Could you explain what happens when you have this condition?
A. Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder that presents as an action or postural tremor in the arms, hands or head. Imaging studies suggest that essential tremor is correlated with neurodegeneration in a part of the brain called the cerebellum, which is involved in the coordination of movement.

Q. How do you manage tremor disorders?
A. Current first-line medications include beta-blockers such as propranolol and anti-epileptics such as primidone. However, these medications are only partially effective at controlling tremors for some people in which case we use surgical treatments such as deep brain stimulation or DBS. Overall, DBS is the most effective treatment for essential tremor.

Q. Hartford Hospital was chosen as one of only three sites in the country to host the International Essential Tremor Foundation Education Forum. What can someone hope to learn at this forum?
We are very proud that Hartford was selected as a host city for this important forum, along with San Diego and St. Louis.  At this forum, the executive director of the International Essential Tremor Foundation will speak about the important work of the foundation including research initiatives.  I will speak on the diagnosis and treatment options for essential tremor.  Finally, Amy Pace, an occupational therapist at Hartford Healthcare, will speak on coping with the physical effects of essential tremor on everyday living.  The program will be exceptional. 

Q. There is also a support group for people with essential tremors. What can they expect to gain from these group meetings?
A. In Connecticut, we are privileged to have a very strong and active support group led by Helen Moser. Meetings are held the first Saturday of every other month, and members can always expect a presentation on a particular facet of essential tremor, as well as review of recent medical research articles.  Members also have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials or advisory committees related to new medications or medical devices for essential tremor.  I thank Helen for all of her work in making the support group so successful and a national model.

Learn more about Deep Brain Stimulation at Hartford HealthCare David and Rhoda Chase Family Movement Disorders Center here, or call 1.855.HHC.HERE (1.855.442.4373). 


What's New

Dr. Elena Bortan

Movement Disorders Care Comes to Mystic

Much as the design of the new Hartford HealthCare facility at 100 Perkins Farms Drive in Mystic reflects the vibe of coastal community, the location of specialists from the HHC Ayer Neuroscience Institute’s Chase Family Movement Disorders Center to the facility answers a demand for high-quality care and support in...

Ozzy Osbourne

How Physical Therapy Might Help Ozzy Osbourne, Other Parkinson’s Patients

For years, substance abuse might have been the presumed root of shaking and stumbling by rock star Ozzy Osbourne, but the 71-year-old rocker recently revealed that Parkinson’s disease is to blame. Parkinson’s, a chronic and progressive movement disorder for which there is treatment but no cure, affects more than 200,000...

2020 Census

Why the Census Is a Healthcare Issue

By Jeffrey A. Flaks Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer and Sarah S. Lewis Hartford HealthCare Vice President, Health Equity Among the New Year’s resolutions that you’ve made (or maybe already broken), here’s one that should be easy to keep: Complete your U.S. Census form, and encourage everyone you...

Dr. J. Antonelle de Marcaida

Dr. DeMarcaida Makes ‘Woman of Distinction’ List

Hartford Magazine uses words like “exceptional” and “significant” to describe the 30 Women of Distinction profiled in its December issue. And, right there on page 49 is Dr. J. Antonelle de Marcaida, medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute’s Chase Family Movement Disorders Center. Dr. de Marcaida, a...

Dr. Hugh Cahill

CHH Adds 3 Neurologists, Physician Assistant

The Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (CHH) has greatly increased access to neurology services for patients with the addition of three neurologists and a physician assistant in the Medical Office Building CHH, 538 Litchfield Street, Suite 104 in Torrington. Neurologists Dr. Hugh Cahill, Dr. Lucas Meira-Benchaya...

Why Does My Neck Hurt? (It Could Be a Pinched Nerve)

When is neck pain a serious issue? When it’s a pinched nerve, according to Dr. Joel Bauman, chief of neurosurgery at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center. Q: What is a pinched nerve? A: A pinched nerve is when there is an injury, usually in the disk, which...