What causes tremor?

In MS, there is damage to the protective material – called ‘myelin’ – around the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord. When myelin is damaged – known as ‘demyelination’ – messages get slower or distorted or do not get through at all, causing the symptoms of MS.

MS tremors are usually caused by damage to myelin in an area of the brain known as the ‘cerebellum’, and the nerves leading to and from it. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls your balance and coordination. It ‘smoothes out’ the movement of your limbs, eyes and speech. Tremor can also be the result of demyelination in other areas of the brain – including the thalamus and the basal ganglia, which are both involved in controlling movement.

Like other MS symptoms, tremor can come and go, or it could be progressive. If you experience tremor as the result of a relapse, you might find that you are still left with some level of tremor once the relapse is over.

Other reasons for tremor

If you have intention or postural tremor because of your MS, you will probably find that while your muscles are completely relaxed – such as when you are lying down or asleep – your tremor goes away. If it doesn’t, there may be another reason for it.

Tremor can be the result of muscle weakness and problems with posture, or a side effect of some medications (such as drugs for asthma). It could also be caused by other neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s.

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