Diseases & Conditions


Benign Essential Tremor

Synonyms of Benign Essential Tremor
  • Presenile Tremor Syndrome
  • Tremor, Familial Essential
  • Tremor, Hereditary Benign

Disorder Subdivisions

    General Discussion
    Benign Essential Tremor is a neurologic movement disorder characterized by involuntary fine rhythmic tremor of a body part or parts, primarily the hands and arms (upper limbs). In many affected individuals, upper limb tremor may occur as an isolated finding. However, in others, tremor may gradually involve other anatomic regions, such as the head, voice, tongue, or roof of the mouth (palate), leading to difficulties articulating speech (dysarthria). Less commonly, tremor may affect muscles of the trunk or legs.

    In individuals with the condition, tremor tends to occur while voluntarily maintaining a fixed posture against gravity (postural tremor) or while performing certain goal-directed movements (kinetic intention tremor). Although tremor is typically absent with rest--i.e., when the affected muscle is not voluntary activated--some individuals with advanced disease may develop resting tremors.

    Although symptom onset may occur during childhood or adolescence, the condition most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood, at an average age of 45 years. Benign Essential Tremor is generally considered a slowly progressive disorder. Disease progression is characterized by an increase in tremor amplitude, causing difficulties in performing fine motor skills and varying degrees of functional disability. For example, hand tremor may gradually cause difficulties with manipulating small objects, drinking fluids from a glass, eating, writing, or dressing. (As mentioned above, in some affected individuals, disease progression may also include extension of tremor to other muscle groups.)

    Benign Essential Tremor may appear to occur randomly for unknown reasons (sporadically) or be transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait. Researchers suggest that changes (mutations) of different genes may be responsible for the disorder (genetic heterogeneity). For example, during genetic analysis of several affected families (kindreds), investigators located a gene for the disorder, known as FET1, on the long arm (q) of chromosome 3 (3q13). In another kindred, the disorder was determined to result from mutations of a gene, designated ETM2, on the short arm (p) of chromosome 2 (2p22-p25).

    Organizations related to Benign Essential Tremor
    • International Essential Tremor Foundation
      11111 West 95th Street
      Overland Park KS 66214-1824
      Phone #: 913-341-3880
      800 #: 888-387-3667
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.essentialtremor.org
    • MUMS (Mothers United for Moral Support, Inc) National Parent-to-Parent Network
      150 Custer Court
      Green Bay WI 54301-1243
      Phone #: 920-336-5333
      800 #: 877-336-5333
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.netnet.net/mums/
    • March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
      1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
      White Plains NY 10605
      Phone #: 914-428-7100
      800 #: 888-663-4637
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.marchofdimes.com
    • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
      31 Center Drive
      Bethesda MD 20892-2540
      Phone #: 301-496-5751
      800 #: 800-352-9424
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/
    • WE MOVE (Worldwide Education and Awareness for Movement Disorders)
      204 West 84th Street
      New York NY 10024
      Phone #: 212-875-8312
      800 #: N/A
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.wemove.org

    For a Complete Report

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc. ? (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdblist.html