How is essential tremor differentiated from Parkinson disease (PD)?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019
  • Author: Robert A Hauser, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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The most common tremor disorders are Parkinson disease and essential tremor. When a patient presents with tremor, the clinician should pay particular attention to the body parts involved, positions/conditions in which the tremor occurs (ie, resting, postural, kinetic, intention), and the frequency of the tremor. It is also critical to look for potential associated signs. The patient should be examined for evidence of parkinsonism (bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability), dystonia, and other neurologic signs.

An 8-12 Hz action (postural/kinetic) tremor of the upper extremities that is temporarily relieved by drinking alcohol is characteristic of essential tremor, whereas the presence of a pill-rolling rest tremor, bradykinesia, and rigidity is consistent with Parkinson disease and argues against essential tremor.

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