Differences Between Essential Tremor and Parkinson's Disease

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Topic Overview

Essential tremor differs from the tremor caused by Parkinson's disease in several ways. These include the following:

  • Essential tremor may affect the head and voice. Head tremor is uncommon in early Parkinson's disease.
  • Essential tremor is almost always worse when the affected part of the body is in motion than when it is at rest. With Parkinson's disease, tremor tends to decrease or stop when you move the affected part of the body.
  • Essential tremor is faster than the tremor of Parkinson's disease.
  • Small amounts of alcohol can reduce an essential tremor. But they usually have no effect on tremor caused by Parkinson's disease.
  • Unlike the tremor of Parkinson's disease, essential tremor does not improve in response to levodopa. But it may be relieved with other medicines (for example, primidone or propranolol).
  • Unlike tremor caused by Parkinson's disease, essential tremor will sometimes occur in family members.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer G. Frederick Wooten, MD - Neurology

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015