Posted by: Thixia | October 18, 2008

Causes and types of tremor 1 of 4

What causes tremor?

In MS, there is damage to the protective material – or myelin – around the nerves in the central nervous system.   (The central nervous system is made up of your brain and spinal cord.) When myelin is damaged, messages are slower or distorted or do not get through at all, causing the symptoms of MS.


MS tremors are most often caused by demyelination or damage to myelin in an area of the brain called the cerebellum and the nerve pathways leading to or from it.   The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls your balance and co-ordination, ‘smoothing out’ movements of limbs, speech and eyes.   Tremor can also be the result of demyelination in other parts of the brain: the thalamus and the basal ganglia. 


Are there different types of tremor?

Generally speaking tremor is classified into two types:


For many people with MS, tremor comes on when they want to do something or reach for something.   And frustratingly, the closer they get to the object, the more their hand or arm shakes.   This is called intention tremor or movement tremor and is the type of tremor people most often experience in MS.


Tremor can also be postural, when you have a tremor as you sit or stand while your muscles try to hold part of the body still against the force of gravity.


Intention tremor and postural tremor are the two forms of tremor commonly experienced by people with MS, but it is very difficult to classify individual tremors.   People often experience tremor together with other movement difficulties, such as muscle weakness and problems with co-ordination.   The medical term for reduced co-ordination is ataxia and this word is often used instead of or as well as tremor. 

Does tremor only occur in the hand or arm?

People are most likely to have a tremor in their hand or arm but tremor can also affect the legs, trunk, or head.   Some people with tremor may also have problems speaking clearly and co-ordinating their eye movements. 


Does tremor occur when you are asleep?

In MS, neither intention tremor nor postural tremor is present when a person is lying down or asleep, that is, when the muscles are completely at rest.   If tremor occurs when you are lying down or asleep, there may be a different reason for it, such as the effects of drugs or perhaps some other condition. 


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