I attended a Parkinson's meeting when a member of the audience with a shaky head and quivering voice like Katharine Hepburn's asked a question as to why her Parkinson's medications weren't working. I've wondered about the possibility of an incorrect diagnosis.
There are numerous tremor disorders, but the two most common ones are Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Essential Tremor (ET). It is often difficult to distinguish between the tremor of PD and ET. To further complicate matters, around 30% of the patients with Parkinson’s don’t have a tremor.
If you experience an undiagnosed tremor or are concerned that you might be misdiagnosed, seek out the opinion of a Movement Disorder Specialist for the correct diagnosis and treatment.
The following table summarizes some of the differences between the tremor of PD and ET:
|Parkinson’s Disease (PD)||Essential Tremor (ET)|
Those with Parkinson’s will exhibit SOME of the following symptoms:
Rigidity and stiffness of muscles (e.g., stooped posture)
Slowness of movement
Poor balance and tendency to fall
Shuffle (walk in small steps)
Numerous non-motor symptoms
|Tremor is the only symptom|
|When Tremors Occur||Resting tremor (when hands are at sides or resting in lap)||Activity tremor (when hands are in use)|
|Parts of Body Affected||Arms and hands are most prominent
Usually NOT the head or voice
Head (e.g., yes-yes or no-no tremors)
Voice (causing a shaking or quivering sound)
|Responsive to L-Dopa (Sinemet)||Usually yes||No|
For further information: