Shaky hands, also known as tremors, can be caused by various factors and may or may not be indicative of an underlying health problem. Dr Vinit Suri, senior consultant, neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, highlights some of the common causes of shaky hands:
Essential tremor: This is a neurological condition that causes rhythmic shaking of the hands, head or voice. It is often inherited and can worsen with age.
Parkinson’s disease: This is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system that can cause tremors, as well as other symptoms such as muscle rigidity and difficulty with movement.
Medications: Some medications, such as those used to treat asthma, epilepsy or psychiatric conditions, can cause tremors as a side effect.
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Alcohol withdrawal: Tremors can be a symptom of alcohol withdrawal in individuals who have been heavy drinkers.
Stress and anxiety: Tremors can also be caused by emotional factors such as stress, anxiety or excitement.
According to Dr Suri, shaky hands, also known as essential tremor, can have both genetic and environmental factors. “Research suggests that essential tremor can be caused by a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors, although the exact cause is still not fully understood,” he says.
“There is evidence that essential tremor can run in families, and researchers have identified several genes that may be associated with the condition. However, not everyone with a family history of essential tremor will develop the condition, and not everyone with essential tremor has a family history of the condition,” he adds.
In addition to genetic factors, Dr Suri says certain environmental factors may also contribute to essential tremor. These can include exposure to certain medications, toxins or other environmental factors that can damage the brain.
Unstable hands can be detrimental to some career options like surgeons, artists, craftsperson’s, etc. According to Dr Suri, there are various reasons why a person might experience unstable hands The treatment for unstable hands will depend on the underlying cause. Here are some possible options:
Medication: For some, medication can be effective in reducing the symptoms. Your doctor can help you identify which medication might be appropriate based on the cause of your tremors.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve hand strength and coordination, which can help reduce tremors.
Deep brain stimulation: This is a surgical treatment that involves implanting electrodes in the brain to regulate tremors. It is typically reserved for severe cases and is not appropriate for everyone.
Lifestyle changes: Some people find that changes in diet or exercise routine can help reduce the severity of hand tremors. Avoiding caffeine, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep can also be helpful.
“It’s important to speak with a medical professional to determine the cause of your hand tremors and develop a treatment plan that is right for you. While there may not be a cure for all cases of unstable hands, there are often ways to manage the symptoms and continue pursuing your career goals,” Dr Suri explains.
Is the condition exacerbated by nervousness? “When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, your body releases stress hormones like adrenaline, which can cause your muscles to tense up and tremble,” he explains.
Can it affect other parts of body or progress to other parts? “In some cases, tremors can progress to affect other parts of the body. For example, essential tremor can progress to affect the head and voice, and Parkinson’s disease can progress to cause tremors in the legs and other parts of the body,” Dr Suri says.
However, it’s important to note that not all tremors will progress to affect other parts of the body. The progression of tremors depends on the underlying cause and individual factors such as age and overall health.
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If the tremors are mild and do not interfere with daily activities, then treatment may not be necessary. However, if the tremors are severe and affect a person’s ability to perform tasks such as writing, eating, or using a computer, then treatment may be recommended.
The first step in seeking treatment for shaky hands is to visit a doctor. The doctor can evaluate the tremors and determine the underlying cause. Depending on the cause, treatment options may include medication, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or surgery.
In summary, whether or not someone needs to seek treatment for shaky hands depends on the severity of the tremors and how they impact daily life. If the tremors are severe or interfering with daily activities, it is important to visit a doctor.