How to Deal with Dystonic Tremor?

By admin

Dystonic tremor is a unique and often challenging movement disorder characterized by involuntary, irregular tremors that are typically associated with dystonic movements or postures. Unlike other tremors, dystonic tremor usually appears during specific actions or postures and can significantly impact the daily lives of those affected.

This article explains the nature of dystonic tremor and provides practical advice for managing it effectively, enhancing quality of life and functionality.

How to Deal with Dystonic Tremor?

Dystonic tremor is a form of tremor that occurs in people with dystonia – a movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions, resulting in abnormal postures or movements. It can affect various body parts, including the hands, head, or vocal cords. The tremors are usually irregular and can vary in intensity.

Diagnosing dystonic tremor involves a careful medical evaluation, including neurological examinations and sometimes neuroimaging. It’s crucial to differentiate dystonic tremor from other types of tremor, as the treatment strategies can differ significantly.

The progression of dystonic tremor can be unpredictable. For some, it remains mild and manageable, while for others, it can become more severe and disabling. Understanding this variability is key to managing the condition effectively.

Medical treatments for dystonic tremor

Medication options

The approach to medication for dystonic tremor is often personalized, depending on individual symptoms and severity. Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen, are commonly prescribed to alleviate muscle spasms and tremors. They work by inhibiting overactive nerve signals that cause muscle stiffness and spasms.

Neuroleptics, a class of medications used for neurological disorders, can also be effective. Additionally, drugs commonly used for Parkinson’s disease, like levodopa, have shown benefits in some cases of dystonic tremor by helping to restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Botulinum toxin injections

Botulinum toxin injections are a widely used and effective treatment for localized dystonic tremor. By being administered directly into the affected muscles, these injections temporarily paralyze or weaken the muscles, thereby reducing spasms and tremor. The treatment’s effectiveness can vary among individuals, and the injections usually need to be repeated every three to four months.

Surgical options

For individuals with severe dystonic tremor that is unresponsive to medications and other treatments, surgical options like deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be considered. DBS involves surgically implanting electrodes in specific areas of the brain. These electrodes are connected to a pacemaker-like device, which sends electrical impulses to modulate the abnormal signals causing the tremor. DBS has been shown to be effective in reducing tremors and improving the quality of life for patients with severe dystonic tremor.

Evaluating treatment options

It’s important for individuals with dystonic tremor to work closely with their healthcare providers to evaluate the potential benefits and risks of each treatment option. Regular follow-ups and adjustments in treatment plans may be necessary to achieve optimal results and manage side effects.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation

Physical therapy for muscle control

Physical therapy is a cornerstone in the management of dystonic tremor. By engaging in targeted exercises and stretches, individuals can gain better muscle control and reduce the frequency and severity of involuntary movements. Physical therapists often use techniques such as neuromuscular retraining and proprioceptive exercises, which help improve the body’s awareness of movement and position, thereby enhancing control over dystonic movements.

Customized exercise programs, designed to strengthen affected and surrounding muscles, can significantly improve stability and reduce tremor intensity. These programs may include activities like hand exercises, balance training, and gait training, depending on the individual’s symptoms and areas affected by dystonia.

Rehabilitation techniques

Rehabilitation for dystonic tremor goes beyond physical exercises. Techniques such as strength training can help build muscle endurance, which is particularly beneficial for activities that require sustained muscle use. Coordination exercises are crucial for improving fine motor skills, which can be compromised in dystonic tremor.

Relaxation techniques, including deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery, can also be integrated into the rehabilitation plan. These methods help manage the stress and anxiety that often accompany dystonic tremor and can indirectly reduce tremor severity.

Functional training is another key aspect of rehabilitation. Occupational therapists can provide strategies for adapting daily tasks and using adaptive equipment to make activities like writing, dressing, or eating easier and more efficient.

Collaborative approach to rehabilitation

A successful rehabilitation plan for dystonic tremor often involves a collaborative approach. This includes working not only with physical and occupational therapists but also with neurologists, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals. Such a multidisciplinary approach ensures a comprehensive management plan covering all aspects of the individual’s condition.

Regular assessment and adaptation

Rehabilitation plans should be regularly assessed and adapted to meet the evolving needs of the individual. As symptoms change or improve, the rehabilitation techniques and exercises can be adjusted to ensure continued progress and effectiveness. This ongoing evaluation process allows for the introduction of new therapies or adjustments in existing routines to better align with the individual’s current condition. Additionally, regular communication between the patient and the rehabilitation team is essential to address any challenges promptly and to modify the approach as the individual’s lifestyle or symptoms change.

Lifestyle adjustments and coping strategies

Adapting daily activities

Successfully managing dystonic tremor often involves practical adjustments to daily activities. Using adaptive devices can greatly assist in tasks that are challenging due to tremors. For instance, weighted utensils can help stabilize movements while eating, and specially designed pens can make writing easier. Modifying workspaces with ergonomic equipment, such as adjustable chairs and desks, can enhance comfort and efficiency, reducing the physical strain that might exacerbate tremors.

Incorporating voice-activated devices and software for tasks like sending emails or browsing the internet can also be beneficial. Additionally, simple changes like choosing clothes with easy fastenings can reduce frustration and conserve energy.

Emotional and social support

The emotional impact of living with dystonic tremor can be profound. It’s important to seek support from mental health professionals who can provide coping strategies and therapy to address feelings of anxiety, depression, or isolation often associated with chronic conditions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in helping manage negative thought patterns and improve emotional well-being.

Joining support groups, whether in-person or online, offers the opportunity to connect with others facing similar challenges. These groups can provide a sense of community, emotional support, and practical coping tips shared by peers.

Stress management

Managing stress is critical in reducing the severity of tremor symptoms. Integrating stress management techniques into daily life can have a positive impact. Practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and tai chi not only reduce stress but also improve body awareness and control, which can be beneficial for those with dystonic tremor. Deep breathing exercises, particularly during stressful situations, can help in managing acute tremor episodes.

Developing healthy habits

Establishing a routine that includes regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep can also play a role in managing dystonic tremor. Physical activity, especially exercises that focus on flexibility and strength, can improve overall muscle function and reduce tremor severity. A nutritious diet can support overall health, while good sleep hygiene can help in managing fatigue, which might worsen tremor symptoms.

Support and resources

Building a comprehensive support system

Establishing a strong network of support is crucial for individuals living with dystonic tremor. This network should include healthcare providers who have expertise in treating dystonic tremor, as they can offer specialized medical advice and treatment options. In addition, the emotional and practical support from family, friends, and support groups can be invaluable. These support systems provide a safe space to share experiences, gain encouragement, and learn effective coping strategies. They also offer a sense of belonging and understanding, which is particularly important for dealing with the emotional aspects of living with a chronic condition.

Educational resources and advocacy

Staying informed is key to effectively managing dystonic tremor. There are numerous patient advocacy groups and organizations dedicated to dystonia and related movement disorders. These organizations provide a wealth of information, including the latest research findings, treatment options, and management tips. They also often offer educational webinars, workshops, and literature to help patients and caregivers understand the condition better.

Community involvement

Active involvement in the dystonic tremor community can be highly beneficial. Participating in online forums and local support groups offers opportunities to connect with others who face similar challenges. These platforms allow individuals to share their experiences, exchange tips for managing the condition, and provide mutual support. Additionally, engaging in community events, awareness campaigns, and advocacy efforts can be empowering. It allows individuals to contribute to greater understanding and awareness of dystonic tremor, potentially leading to better resources and support for everyone affected.

Navigating treatment options

These resources can also help individuals navigate the various treatment options available. By learning from the experiences of others and staying updated on new therapies, individuals with dystonic tremor can be better equipped to discuss these options with their healthcare providers and make informed decisions about their treatment plans.

Accessing online resources

The internet offers a vast array of resources for individuals with dystonic tremor. From online medical journals and articles to blogs and social media groups, these resources can provide up-to-date information, peer support, and a sense of community. However, it’s important to verify the credibility of online information and discuss it with healthcare professionals.


Managing dystonic tremor requires a multifaceted approach that includes medical treatment, physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and a strong support system. By understanding the condition, exploring various management strategies, and staying connected with a supportive community, individuals with dystonic tremor can lead fulfilling lives. Staying proactive and informed is key to successfully navigating the challenges of this unique movement disorder.

Leave a Comment