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Tremors, Dyskinesia, and Tics

What are Tremors, Dyskinesia, and Tics?

Dyskinesia describes the presence of involuntary movements, such as tremors. Tremors are unintentional trembling or shaking movements, which usually occur in the hands but can affect the arms, head, face, voice, trunk, and legs.

Types of tremors include:

  • Essential tremor – Essential tremor is a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking of the hands or other parts of the body. Symptoms typically occur gradually and get worse with time. It is the most common type of tremor.
  • Parkinsonian tremor – This type of tremor is caused by damage to structures within the brain that control movement. It is often the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Dystonic tremor – This type of tremor occurs in people with dystonia, a movement disorder in which sustained involuntary muscle contractions cause repetitive or twisting movements.

Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that occur repeatedly and involuntarily. Involuntary movements are called motor tics and involuntary sounds are called vocal tics. Tics can be simple, meaning they only involve a few parts of the body, or complex in which several different parts of the body are affected.

Tremors, Dyskinesia, and Tics Symptoms

Symptoms of tremors may include:

  • Rhythmic shaking of the hands, arms, head, legs, or trunk
  • Shaky voice
  • Difficulty writing or using utensils

Tremors may be triggered or become worse with stress, physical exhaustion, or during certain postures or movements.

Symptoms of tics may include:

  • Involuntary movements, such as blinking the eyes or jerking an arm
  • Involuntary sounds, such as clearing the throat or yelling out a word or phrase

Tremors, Dyskinesia, and Tics Treatments

There is currently no known cure for tics, tremors, and other dyskinesia. Symptoms may improve if your doctor is able to diagnose and treat the underlying condition.

Some tremors may improve with certain medications or a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS). In this procedure, an electrode is implanted in the brain to deliver electrical stimulation to groups of nerve cells that control movement.

Additional Information

How common are tremors, dyskinesia, and tics?

Movement disorders are common. Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder, affecting up to 10 million people in the United States.

Who gets tremors, dyskinesia, and tics?

Tremors can affect anyone but are most common in middle-aged and older people. They may be caused by Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, multiple sclerosis, stroke, a traumatic brain injury, alcohol abuse or withdrawal, or certain medications.

Tics are more common in children than in adults. They occur more often in boys than in girls and are a major symptom of Tourette syndrome.

How are tremors, dyskinesia, and tics diagnosed?

Your doctor may use the following to diagnose a movement disorder:

  • Physical examination
  • Neurological examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Diagnostic imaging, such as an MRI or a CT scan

Information and Resources about Tremors, Dyskinesia, and Tics’

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke | Tremor Information Page
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke | Tremor Fact Sheet
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Facts about Tourette Syndrome
MedlinePlus | Facial Tics

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Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder, affecting up to 10 million people in the United States.