Causes of Hand & Arm Tremors

By Constance Barker

Tremors in the hands and arms are an involuntary shaking. Tremors can happen in any part of the body, but mostly affect the hands and arms. The disorder afflicts any age group, but is most common in older people.

Hands on bare legs

Tremors in the hands and arms are an involuntary shaking. Tremors can happen in any part of the body, but mostly affect the hands and arms. The disorder afflicts any age group, but is most common in older people.

Causes Of Tremors

Woman drinking coffee

There is a variety of reasons for tremors to occur including too much coffee or caffeine, normal aging, stress, fatigue, low blood sugar, alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal. Other causes may include multiple sclerosis, brain injury, stroke or brain cancer.

Symptoms Of Tremors

Man with hand on chair

Arm and hand tremors begin gradually starting in the hands first. They may worsen with movement, stress, fatigue and extremes in temperature. Hand and arm tremors may be mistaken for Parkinson's disease, but the involuntary shaking is different. Hand tremors typically occur when the hands are in use, but in Parkinson's disease, shaking occurs when hands are resting.

Considerations

Couple toasting

Hand and arm tremors are not life threatening, but shaking can get worse over time and make normal routines difficult. You may have problems holding or drinking from a glass, putting on makeup or shaving, writing and eating.

Diagnosis

Doctor talking with patient

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and check whether the tremors occur during movement or at rest. He will check your tendon reflexes, muscle tone and strength, sensory loss and any muscle atrophy. Blood tests may be taken to check for thyroid disease or chemical reactions to any drugs you may be taking.

Your doctor may have you perform tests so he can evaluate your skill in drinking from a glass, drawing, writing and holding your arms outstretched for a period of time.

Treatment For Tremors

Pharmacist reading prescription

Mild hand and arm tremors may need no treatment, but if shaking is causing problems in your life, medications are available. Beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure may relieve tremors. Drugs such as Valium or Xanax may help people with tremors caused by anxiety or stress. These drugs need to be closely monitored because of their risk of dependence. Anti-seizure medications such as Neurontin may help reduce the incidence of tremors.

Other Treatment Options

Woman in physical therapy

Physical therapy may reduce tremors and help with muscle coordination. Using heavier utensils and plates, wrist weights and bigger writing pens or pencils may help reduce the effect of hand and arm tremors.

Avoid caffeine and limit alcohol consumption as they contribute to tremors. Try to relax and become more stress free by listening to music, taking naps, reading or taking a long soak in the tub. Exercise by walking, running or swimming as these activities may help you rest better at night.

References

About the Author

Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.

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