An action tremor is a tremor which is associated with voluntary movement. For example, someone who experiences tremors after pushing a button could be said to be experiencing an action tremor. Tremors in general, not just action tremors, are a cause for concern, because they indicate that someone has a neurological problem which needs to be addressed, or it may get worse. A neurologist is usually the medical professional to see for tremors, although the neurologist may recommend additional medical care providers to get to the bottom of the problem and to help the patient cope.
Tremors are among the most common of neurological symptoms, and there are numerous different types. It is important to distinguish between tremors because the causes and treatment approaches for different kinds of tremors are different. In the case of the action tremor, also known as a kinetic tremor or intention tremor, the patient has a problem with the cerebellum which causes shaking after voluntary movements. Any number of things can cause issues to arise in the cerebellum, ranging from exposure to toxins to progressive neurological disease.
If an action tremor is identified, a patient should go to a neurologist for evaluation. The neurologist can examine and interview the patient, and request medical screening such as brain scans and blood tests to identify potential causes of the tremor. The neurologist can also discuss techniques which can be used to manage an action tremor, keeping a patient more comfortable and more functional, as tremors can disrupt daily activities and limit independence for patients.
Over time, action tremors can get worse. In some cases, this is because a patient has a degenerative condition which cannot be cured, although it may be managed to slow the progress of the disease. In other instances, this may be because a doctor has not yet identified the cause of the tremor. Progression of a tremor can actually be a useful diagnostic clue, indicating that the doctor's approach to the problem is not working and thereby ruling out causes the doctor may have hypothesized.
It is important to distinguish an action tremor from a resting tremor. With an action tremor, involuntary movement such as shaking occurs when the patient initiates a voluntary movement. With a resting tremor, the patient experiences shaking and tremors when he or she is not moving. Resting tremors are famously associated with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological condition seen most commonly in elderly adults.