Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Tremors Caused by MS” from April 30, 2018.
If you have MS, your answer is likely to refer to at least one part of your body. Tremor describes an uncontrolled, rhythmic movement like shaking or twitching. It’s a symptom that as many as 75 percent of people with MS experience.
For some, tremor is a minor nuisance, but for others, it can be a major occurrence. Those with severe tremor (up to 6 percent of all people with MS) may need treatment to reduce its impact on daily living.
What causes tremor in MS?
MS causes misfiring of brain signals to different parts of the body.
In the case of the muscles, signals from the brain may become confused (thanks to demyelination) and result in repetitious relaxing and contracting of muscle groups that typically work opposite one another. This causes the rhythmic movements characteristic of tremors.
MS tremor: 4 types
There are four main types of MS tremor:
These occur following a smooth movement by the hand or foot. A person with an intention tremor may reach for a cup of coffee, only to find their hand beginning to shake when they grasp the cup’s handle.
When a person with postural tremor stands up or sits down, the weight-bearing motion in between leads to “antigravity” shaking.
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