If you or a loved one have essential tremor, you may already understand how frustrating and isolating it can be. Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder. It mostly occurs in those over 65. Despite its prevalence, scientists have struggled to find a definitive answer regarding essential tremor’s underlying cause. Treatments for the disorder are available, but can take time to find the right mix of lifestyle changes, pharmaceutical medications, and medical procedures for long-lasting relief.
Luckily for patients with essential tremor, researchers have recently discovered a key element of the disorder: overactive brain waves. Although the research is ongoing, the discovery has already widened potential new treatment options. Keep reading to learn more about the link between overactive brain waves and essential tremor. Or, skip to the section below that directly answers your query.
What is Essential Tremor?
Before diving into the relationship between overactive brain waves and essential tremor (ET), it’s important to first understand ET more deeply.
Essential tremor is a common movement disorder that causes a person’s head, hands, trunk, voice, or legs to shake involuntarily and rhythmically. It can sometimes be confused with Parkinson’s Disease.
Although it’s most common in people aged 65 and older, it can occur at any age. The condition can also run in families. Like many other disorders and health conditions, if you have a family member with essential tremor, you’re more likely to develop it. In fact, around half of essential tremor cases occur due to a genetic mutation. The mutation can be passed down through generations, but the pattern of inheritance is variable. ET can also occur in people without any history of the disorder.
For some patients with essential tremor, the shaking is mild and never progresses. In others, the tremor may start on one side of the body and affect both sides later. The hands are the most common body part affected.
Possible symptoms of essential tremor are as follows:
- Tremor occurs when you move and are less prevalent at rest
- Tremor worsens as you age
- Tremor gets worse after certain medications
- Tremor occurs after stressful events or caffeine
- Difficulty with tasks like writing or using tools
- Shaky voice
Patients with essential tremor may shake at different times and with different intensities, depending on variables like age, stress, and medications. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional if you are concerned about the possibility of having this disorder.
Now that you understand a little more about essential tremor, we can dive into a new finding that may help patients with essential tremor find relief from symptoms.
Overactive Brain Waves Trigger Essential Tremor
Recently published research in Science Translation Medicine suggests that overactive brain waves (also called oscillations) in the cerebellum might be responsible for tremor.
The researchers who made the discovery that overactive brain waves may trigger essential tremor first observed abnormal cerebellar brain waves in mice. These mice exhibited tremor closely matching the type of tremor observed in human patients with essential tremor.
In the study, scientists found that the tremor could be turned on and off by stimulating certain parts of the mouse brain, which suppressed and caused the brain wave activity. As a main takeaway from the study, the researchers established that a potential causal relationship existed between the brain waves and tremor.
In past studies and experimentation of deceased essential tremor patient brain tissue, a research team at Columbia found that patients with essential tremor had a very high number of synapses. Synapses in your brain are a small connection between brain cells used to pass messages and communicate. Just one neuron can have thousands — even a hundred thousand — synapses.
In patients with essential tremor, researchers found an abnormally high number of synapses between two types of nerve cells in the brain’s cerebellum, Purkinje cells and climbing fibers.
Postmortem brain tissue of patients with ET also showed that the formation of these synapses was influenced by a protein called glutamate receptor delta 2. When this specific protein was not expressed properly, extra and unnecessary synapses between Purkinje cells and climbing fibers weren’t eliminated. In turn, too many neuron connections formed, leading to tremor symptoms.
When the research team suppressed the normal expression of the protein in mice, essential tremor symptoms were observed shortly after. But restoring the normal functioning of the protein helped to control the tremor. As a result of these intensive studies and research, scientists believe that the protein, glutamate receptor delta 2, plays a fundamental role in the development of essential tremor.
Treatments to Reduce Essential Tremor
Currently, traditional treatment options for essential tremor range from lifestyle changes, medication, botox, and medical procedures. Patients with essential tremor should consult with their doctor to find the right approach and treatment for their specific case.
Finding Additional Relief with Cala Trio
Another option for patients with essential tremor is using the Cala Trio wristband, an FDA-cleared essential tremor device. Cala Trio is a wristband calibrated to your unique tremor pattern. Just like a fingerprint, no two patients with ET will have the same kind of tremor.
After just one treatment session, patients reporting benefit can get up to 94 minutes of relief on average.
Although essential tremor can be a frustrating diagnosis to get, you or your loved ones have options at your disposal to treat this disorder. Besides making certain lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, and stress, you can also try essential tremor medications. In more severe cases, surgery or medical procedures may be required. However, you can also ask your doctor about non-invasive treatment options that don’t come with the risks or side effects of medication or surgery. Cala Trio can help increase your quality of life and increase your enjoyment of everyday life. Talk to your doctor about Cala Trio today.