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Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders & Pain


Essential Tremor

If you’ve been diagnosed with essential tremor, you might worry about the condition getting worse as you grow older. Medication is an option for many patients, but it isn’t effective for everyone. At the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders and Pain Program, we offer surgical treatment options for patients looking for an alternative to traditional therapies, including deep brain stimulation and non-invasive radiosurgery.

What is essential tremor?

Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary, rhythmic movements that get worse with activity. While it can occur in any part of the body, it often affects the arms and hands.

The condition tends to affect members of the same family. While it can occur at any age, it is most common in people over 40.

Essential tremor symptoms

Patients diagnosed with essential tremor may also experience the following:

  • Involuntary movements that often involve the wrist and fingers, creating the appearance of hand flapping. They may also affect the head, face, mouth and tongue.
  • Symptoms become progressive and disabling in adulthood and worsen as patient ages
  • Symptoms worsen with activity, stop at rest and can improve with alcohol

Surgical treatment options for essential tremor at UCLA

If you’ve been diagnosed with essential tremor, your doctor will first prescribe medication. Not all medications are appropriate for all patients. If you cannot take medication or don’t respond well, your doctor may recommend surgery. At the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders and Pain Program, we offer two surgical treatment options:

Learn more about deep brain stimulation and stereotactic radiosurgery.

Am I a candidate for surgical treatment for essential tremor?

Different amounts of tremor affect each patient to different degrees. If you have tried various medications but your tremor is still affecting your quality of life and your ability to function, you should consider surgical treatment. While we do not use absolute age cut-offs for treatment, you should be in good general health before considering surgery.

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