Story by: Sara Thompson on April 24, 2023
You might associate uncontrollable shaking of the body with Parkinson’s disease. Although shaking is a classic sign of Parkinson’s, there are other movement disorders that include similar symptoms. Essential tremor affects about 10 million Americans, and Parkinson’s affects about 1 million. Telling these two conditions apart can be tricky, and diagnosis can take time.
There are several key ways essential tremor is different from Parkinson’s disease.
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“In people with essential tremor, that’s really the main symptom,” said Justin T. Phillips, M.D., movement disorders neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute.
“Early signs of Parkinson’s and essential tremor can overlap,” Dr. Phillips said. “A patient can have both conditions, so it’s important to understand the differences in these disorders. People sometimes assume that if they shake at all, it’s Parkinson’s. That isn’t the case.”
If you have any of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease or tremor, talk to your health care provider— not only to diagnose your condition but also to rule out other causes for your symptoms.
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