Types of Tremors


Action Tremor-  A Tremor occurring during a willful act.

Kinetic Tremor- A type of Action Tremor that appears during movement.

Intention tremor- A type of Action Tremor that appears when the movement is directed towards a specific target, such as reaching for a pencil on a desk.

Postural Tremor- A type of Action Tremor that occurs in certain postures, such as when arms are held out horizontally for a time.

Task-Specific Tremor- A type of Action Tremor during a specific act such as singing or during handwriting.

Isometric Tremor- A type of Action Tremor that occurs during static (non-moving) voluntary muscle tasks (such as in some types of isometric exercise).

Resting Tremor- A tremor when the muscles are relaxed, such as shaking hands resting on a desk.

Symmetric Tremor- A tremor occurring on both sides of the body.

Asymmetric Tremor- Having a tremor with greater amplitude in one side of the body than the other side

Familial Tremor- A tremor that is common in family lines and is passed from parent to child.

Cold Tremor- Typically chattering of the teeth and shivering.

Essential Tremor or Benign Tremor- A category of tremor that includes a kinetic arm tremor, but may include other features non-motor features.  The most common type of tremor.  In some cases, it may be inherited, while in other cases it may be caused by environmental toxins. Typically Essential Tremor occurs on both sides of the body (Symmetric Tremor), but may initially start on one side. This type of Tremor is most often seen in persons above the age of 60 years old.  Essential Tremor is not currently considered a disease, and the tremor may remain mild over a substantial period of time.

Parkinsonian Tremor- A tremor caused by Parkinson's Disease.  Typically a resting tremor, and is commonly Asymmetric.  Diagnosis should be performed by a health professional, as Essential Tremor has been reported in the literature to be often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's Disease

Cerebellum Tremor- A tremor caused by damage to the Cerebellum from stroke, tumor or disease  such as multiple sclerosis or alcoholism. Typically an intention tremor.

Dystonic Tremor- A tremor associate with dystonia, an often painful involuntary contraction of muscles leaving the body in twisted, abnormal positions.  Rest of the affected muscle can sometimes reduce Dystonic tremors.

Psychogenic Tremor or Functional Tremor- A tremor due to a psychological disorder that produces physical symptoms.  Increases in stress can increase the intensity of the tremor.

Physiologic Tremor- A tremor due to overexertion of muscles, physical exhaustion, low blood sugar, excessive caffeine, and alcohol withdrawal. This type of tremor is typically short-lived after the cause of the tremor is removed.

Orthostatic Tremor- This tremor is seen in the torso and legs after standing, and may cause a feeling of unsteadiness.   It is typically eliminated by movement (such as walking).

As can be seen, Tremor is categorized according to the motion or the cause of the tremor.  Unfortunately, one study showed that up to 50% of Tremor cases were misdiagnosed based on the "cause",[1] as symptoms between non-disease tremor cases and diseased-tremor cases tend to overlap.

Learn the causes of some types of Tremors.



[1] Louis, E.D., R. Ottman, and W.A. Hauser, How common is the most common adult movement disorder? estimates of the prevalence of essential tremor throughout the world. Mov Disord, 1998. 13(1): p. 5-10.