The Non-motor Features of Essential Tremor: A Primary Disease Feature or Just a Secondary Phenomenon?

Jhunjhunwala, Ketan; Pal, Pramod K.

Essential tremor (ET) is a pathologically heterogeneous neurodegenerative disorder with both motor and increasingly recognized non-motor features. It is debated whether the non-motor manifestations in ET result from widespread neurodegeneration or are merely secondary to impaired motor functions and decreased quality of life due to tremor. It is important to review these features to determine how to best treat the non-motor symptoms of patients and to understand the basic pathophysiology of the disease and develop appropriate pharmacotherapies. In this review, retrospective and prospective clinical studies were critically analyzed to identify possible correlations between the severities of non-motor features and tremor. We speculated that if such a correlation existed, the non-motor features were likely to be secondary to tremor. According to the current literature, the deficits in executive function, attention, concentration, and memory often observed in ET are likely to be a primary manifestation of the disease. It has also been documented that patients with ET often exhibit characteristic personality traits. However, it remains to be determined whether the other non-motor features often seen in ET, such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances are primary or secondary to motor manifestations of ET and subsequent poor quality of life. Finally, there is evidence that patients with ET can also have impaired color vision, disturbances of olfaction, and hearing impairments, though there are few studies in these areas. Further investigations of large cohorts of patients with ET are required to understand the prevalence, nature, and true significance of the non-motor features in ET.



Also Published In

Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center for Parkinson's Disease and Other Movement Disorders
Published Here
November 2, 2014