How to Manage MS Tremors

Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have some form of tremor, or shaking they can’t control, in different parts of their bodies.

What Are the Types of Tremors?

  • Intention tremor. There’s no shaking when you’re at rest. It starts when you try to reach or grasp something or move your hand or foot to a precise spot. This is the most common form of MS tremor, and it usually causes the most problems in day-to-day life.
  • Postural tremors. You shake when you sit or stand, but not when you lie down.
  • Nystagmus. This type causes jumpy eye movements.

What Causes Tremors in MS?

This disease damages the protective sheath (myelin) that covers the nerves in your brain and spinal cord. Tremors result from damage to a part of your brain called the cerebellum. It controls your balance and coordination and smooths out the actions that you make when you move your limbs and eyes or speak.

Medicines That Treat MS Tremors

These problems are one of the hardest MS symptoms to treat. There aren’t any drugs made just to treat MS tremors. Your doctors will probably prescribe drugs for another condition, like:

Nonmedicinal Tremor Treatments

Braces: These can hold your joint still and stop extra movement. A brace on your ankle or foot can make it easier to walk. They can help control your arm, hand, or neck, too.

Weights: Adding extra weight to a body part can help keep it still. You can also add weights to commonly used items like forks, pencils, pens, eating utensils, canes, and walkers.

Speech therapy: If you have tremors in your lips, tongue or jaw, a health professional can work with you to slow your speech, make it clearer, and control the volume.

Special tools: You’ll probably hear them called adaptive devices. They can help you grab things from up high or off the floor, pull up a zipper, or hold a fork more easily.

Deep brain stimulation: This experimental approach is mostly used for people who have tremors from Parkinson’s disease. A doctor implants electrodes into your brain. Wires connect them to a gadget in your chest. You use it to send your brain signals that stop the tremors.

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Tremors and Depression

Tremors can be tough to handle in social situations. You may feel like you want to be alone, but that can make you feel lonely and depressed. A psychologist or counselor can help you find ways to feel more comfortable in public and keep the tremors from changing how you live your life.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 14, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

MS Society: “Treating and managing tremor,” “What causes tremor?”

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America: “Tremor.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Deep Brain Stimulation: Overview.”

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: "Tremor."

Koch, M. Journal of Neurology, February 2007.

Multiple Sclerosis Society UK: "Tremor."

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