Tremor (essential)


A tremor is when you are not able to control shaking or trembling in a part of your body. See a GP if a tremor is affecting your life as treatment may help to reduce it.

When a tremor is normal

It's normal to have a slight tremor. For example, if you hold your hands or arms out in front of you, they will not be completely still.

Sometimes a tremor becomes more noticable.

This often happens:

  • as you get older
  • when your stressed, tired, anxious or angry
  • after drinking caffeine (for example, tea, coffee or cola) or smoking
  • if you are very hot or cold

Some medicines and conditions can also cause a tremor. Speak to your GP before you stop taking any prescribed medicine.

See a GP if:

you have a tremor or shaking hands and:

  • it's getting worse over time
  • it's affecting your daily activities

Your doctor will want to make sure the tremor is not caused by another condition. They may also be able to offer treatment.

What happens at your GP appointment

Your GP will examine you and ask:

  • if you have any other symptoms
  • if you are taking any medicine
  • about your and your family's medical history - some types of tremor run in families

A mild tremor that is not caused by another condition does not usually need any treatment. Your GP may want to monitor you to make sure it does not get any worse.

Your GP may refer you to a specialist for future tests if your tremor could be a symptom of a condition such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

Treating a severe tremor

If you have a tremor that's affecting your life, your GP may prescribe medicine. Medicine will not cure the tremor, but it often helps to reduce the shaking or trembling.

You may need to take medicine all the time, or only when you need it - for example, before a stressful situation that causes your tremor to get worse.

If a tremor is affecting your head or voice, you may be offered injections to block the nerves and relax the muscles.

In rare cases, brain surgery may be be an option to treat a severe tremor that is not helped my medicine.

Read more about brain surgery for severe tremor on the National Tremor Foundation (NTF) website

The NTF also offers support and information on tremor if it's affecting your life.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 20/03/2024 13:19:45