Read below about tremor, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your tremor from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Tremor Symptoms

Tremor means small, fast, uncontrolled muscle contractions in any part of your body, including your head and neck. These contractions create involuntary shaking and trembling.

Tremor is also called dystonia, which translates to "abnormal tension." It refers to the inability of the muscle to function properly and keep itself steady, leaving you with off-and-on shaking movements that you cannot control.

tremor characteristics:

  • Fine, rhythmic shaking of your head.
  • Your voice may also be affected and have a shaky or trembling quality.
  • If there is also an abnormal neck position, your head tremor may be markedly irregular and jerky.
  • A resting tremor means your shaking continues even when you are lying down and relaxing, as with resting your head on a pillow.
  • A postural tremor occurs when you try to hold a certain position, as with raising your head from your pillow and keeping still.
  • An intention tremor occurs when moving your head towards a target, as with lowering your chin towards your chest.
  • A task-specific tremor occurs when attempting a highly focused task, such as speaking.
  • A head tremor may be a symptom of another condition.
  • It may arise spontaneously and simply be a condition in itself.

tremor duration:

  • Your tremor may be constant.
  • Your tremor may come and go for no apparent reason.
  • Your shaking rate may slow somewhat as you get older, but the shaking itself can become stronger and more pronounced.

Who is most often affected by tremor symptoms?

  • Adults who are into, or past, middle age are most often affected, though tremor can arise at any age.
  • Men and women tend to be equally affected.

When are tremor symptoms most likely to occur?

  • During times of physical exertion or exhaustion.
  • During times of emotional stress.
  • When you change position suddenly or make sudden movements.

Are tremor symptoms serious?

  • Tremor of any kind is not serious in itself.
  • However, it can interfere with working, socializing, and general quality of life.
  • In more serious cases, it can be hazardous to drive, work, or operate machinery while experiencing tremor.

Tremor Causes Overview

Many conditions can have head tremor, or head dystonia, as a symptom. The most common causes involve illness, especially neurologic disease; brain injury; or drugs and medication.

Primary dystonia causes:

  • Primary dystonia arises from a condition you were born with.
  • Cervical dystonia, which is abnormal positioning and movement of your neck muscles. This originates from signals in your brain and results in head tremors, since your neck is not supporting your head correctly.
  • Some tremors may run in families, which means that whatever is causing them is hereditary.
  • A malformation in the parts of your brain that control movement.
  • In some cases, there is no cause that can be pinpointed for certain.

Secondary dystonia causes:

  • Secondary dystonia arises from something in your environment that has affected you.
  • Any neurologic disease, since these affect your nervous system.
  • Overproduction of thyroid hormone.
  • Liver failure.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Infections, especially with fever.
  • Intense anxiety or panic.
  • Traumatic brain injury due to accident, surgery, or illness that affects the parts of your brain that control movement.
  • Certain medications.
  • Taking amphetamines or other stimulants, including caffeine.
  • Alcoholism, especially if you suddenly stop drinking and go through withdrawal.
  • Exposure to toxins, or poisons, such as mercury.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Tremor

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced tremor. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

    Anxiety is a common emotion from time to time; however, persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying are signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries more days than not for at least six months and has symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

    With long-term care, symptoms can be controlled with talk therapy, medication, and self-care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, general anxiety (stress), irritability, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad):
    general anxiety (stress)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy

    Nerve damage in the limbs can be caused by diabetes, toxic substances, immune system issues and low vitamin levels. However, in about one of every four cases no cause can be found and then the condition is called 'idiopathic'. Symptoms of nerve damage can be (burning) pain sensations, numbness, tingling and weakness in hands, feet or lower legs.

    This is a chronic condition.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Tremor Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having tremor.

    Tremor Quiz
  3. 3.Parkinson's Disease

    Parkinson's disease is a lifelong condition movement disorder. It is caused by the malfunction and death of nerve cells which results in symptoms like tremors.

    Parkinson's disease is a lifelong condition with no cure, however, medication and behavioral modifications may help manage symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation
    Symptoms that always occur with parkinson's disease:
    symptoms of parkinsonism
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Overactive Thyroid

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid glands control how fast one burns calories and how fast the heart beats. If the thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism.

    Great prognosis with high remission rates

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Brain Tumor or Mass

    A brain lesion can be cancerous or non-cancerous. Nonetheless, they are a potentially serious issue and should be discussed with a physician.

    Uncertain. Prognosis is very dependent on what is found

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability
    Symptoms that always occur with brain tumor or mass:
    focal neurological symptoms
    Urgency:
    In-person visit

Tremor Treatments and Relief

Schedule an appointment for:

  • Ongoing head tremor with no other tremors. Medication may be available for it. In rare cases, head tremor symptoms alone may be an early symptom of Parkinson's disease.
  • Ongoing head tremor that does not respond to medication, especially if you also have neck pain. Very often, head tremor symptoms actually originate in your neck and can be treated with injections of botulinum toxin (Botox.)
  • Asking about deep brain stimulation, or DBS. This involves implanting a small pacemaker-like device into the part of your brain responsible for controlling your tremors.
  • Asking about occupational therapy, which is helpful for some.

Head tremor remedies you can try at home:

  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants.
  • Learning to manage stress, which is often helpful for managing any sort of tremor.
  • Making improvements in diet, exercise, and sleep.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Tremor

  • Q.Are you having difficulty concentrating or thinking through daily activities?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?
  • Q.Have you noticed pain, swelling, temperature, or skin color changes on a part of your body that previously suffered a physical injury?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our tremor symptom checker to find out more.

Tremor Quiz

Tremor Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced tremor have also experienced:

    • 5% Fatigue
    • 5% Nausea
    • 4% Involuntary Movements
  • People who have experienced tremor were most often matched with:

    • 40% Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy
    • 30% Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)
    • 30% Parkinson's Disease
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having tremor

Tremor Quiz