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Tremors (cont.)

Metabolic Disorders Associated with Tremors

There are several medical conditions in which tremors might be an important sign. The most common ones are include:

The treatment of these tremors is related to the primary condition.

Task- and Position Specific Tremor

These are tremors that are seen only or almost exclusively in relation to a certain task. As long as the patient is not involved in that task, there are no symptoms, and the limbs can be used normally. The most common example is the writing tremor.

When to Seek Medical Care

A good rule of thumb is any isolated tremor, that is a tremor is the only sign, that lasts more than a few months or interferes with daily functions deserves a medical consultation.

When the tremor is associated with any other clinical sign, a medical consultation is always indicated. Given the variety of causes that can result in tremors, the best person to consult first is the primary care physician. Later, the patient may or may not be referred to a specialist.

Exams and Tests

Physicians evaluate tremors with clinical examination and diagnostic tests. Some of these tests are as follows:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver function tests
  • Kidney function tests
  • Metabolic screening including blood levels of electrolytes, glucose, urea, and nitrogen.
  • Blood calcium and magnesium levels
  • Toxic screening
  • Measuring blood levels of prescribed medications
  • Ceruloplasmin levels, serum and urine copper levels
  • Thyroid hormone levels
  • Cortisol and parathyroid hormone levels
  • Neuroradiological studies: CT Scan, MRI, PET and SPECT.

Some tests, such as surface electromyograms and mechanical recording devices, help to define the rhythmicity, amplitude, and frequency of the tremors as well as the relationship between tremors and movements. These are not highly used in medical practice.

Other tests are useful to diagnose diseases that might be associated with the tremors.

In many instances a clinical examination might be more than enough to establish the diagnosis, and other tests are not indicated.

Last Reviewed 11/17/2017
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