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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are tremors an early sign of Parkinson's disease?

    I have noticed that my grandma has tremors (her hands shake especially when carring plates). Is this a definite sign of Parkinson's disease or can tremors be part of the normal aging process?
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    Dr Nicholas Bradfield

    Clinical Neuropsychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Bradfield is a Clinical Neuropsychologist working in private practice and in the public health system in Melbourne, Australia. He has clinical experience conducting neuropsychological … View Profile

    Tremor can be an early sign of Parkinson's disese, but tremor comes in many forms and can have many causes.  Tremor in Parkinson's disease usually begins unilaterally (on one side of the body) such as in one hand.  Tremor in Parkinson's disease is usually described as a ‘resting tremor’ because it is generally worse when the body part is resting, e.g. resting in one's lap, and may momentarily improve when the body part is used, e.g. the tremor may improve for a few seconds when the person holds out their arm such as when changing the TV channel with the remote control.  Other forms of tremor include essential tremor, which is usually worse when the the body part is in action - picking up and drinking a cup of water is characteristically difficult for these patients.  Other common causes of tremor include anxiety, medication side effects, metabolic disturbances, caffeine, sleep deprivation, stress and many others.  If you are concerned I would recommend seeing your GP who could refer to a movement disorders specialist such as a neurologist or geriatrician for a more definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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