Posted by: Thixia | October 20, 2008

Causes and types of tremor 2 of 4

How does tremor affect those with MS?


The effects of tremor. 


Effects of tremor on people with MS


Is everyone with MS affected by tremor?


Perhaps as many as three quarters of people with MS experience tremor.   Tremor can affect people in very different ways.   For some, tremor may be so mild it is not obvious to anyone else.   For others, tremor may be more pronounced, causing a drink to spill when the cup is full, for example, or affect handwriting.   For a small percentage of people, it is more severe, causing limbs to shake so that it becomes difficult or even impossible to eat, drink or get dressed without help.   Whatever form it takes, tremor can be frustrating, embarrassing and exhausting to live with.


If tremor develops, it tends to do so some years after people’s first symptom of MS, typically between five and 15 years, though it can also develop earlier or later than this.   A tremor may become gradually noticeable or develop quite swiftly. 


Is tremor always related to MS?


Not every tremor is related to MS and there can be other reasons why you experience shaking or trembling.   For example, everyone has a small level of tremor (physiological tremor), which caffeine, alcohol or stress can make more noticeable – you may be able to see this when you hold out your hand.   Tremor can also be the result of muscle weakness and problems with posture, a side effect of some medications such as drugs for asthma, and result from other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s. 

Is tremor different in the different types of MS?


Relapsing remitting MS


Some people may experience tremor during relapses and like other symptoms, it will often lessen when a relapse is over.   However, some level of tremor does tend to remain after a relapse.   Even with almost-complete recovery, tremor often remains noticeable because it is associated with such precise, fine movements that are involved in reaching for and picking up objects.


Primary progressive MS


People with primary progressive MS, who do not experience relapses, may develop tremor.


Secondary progressive MS


People who move from having relapsing remitting MS into the secondary progressive phase of MS may experience tremor.   In these people, tremor tends to be a progressive symptom that becomes more severe over time. 


How does tremor impact on everyday life?


Living with a persistent tremor can be difficult.   It can be exhausting, as the continuous movements use energy in the same way as voluntary actions do.   An intention tremor can affect just about any activity – eating, dressing, shaving, writing and so on – because you reach out and use your hands for so many different activities, so many times each day.   If tremor is severe, it can have a significant impact on your abilities and independence.   For some people, tremor can also cause feelings of acute embarrassment and self-consciousness. 


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Causes and types of tremor 3 of 4


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