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Essential Tremor and Deep Brain Stimulation

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Find answers to your questions about deep brain stimulation.



Find definitions of technical terms in our glossary.

Tremor: A Disruptive Condition

Essential tremor, also known simply as tremor, is a neurological condition that causes shaking or rhythmic trembling. If you have been diagnosed with tremor, you are not alone. Tremor is the most common adult movement disorder—eight times as many people have tremor as have Parkinson’s disease.1

Causes and symptoms of tremor

Although the exact reason people have tremor is unknown, it is thought that tremor cells send consistent signals from the brain to affected areas of the body, causing them to move rhythmically. Patients with tremor may experience a shaking or rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or torso. The symptoms may be present on one or both sides of the body and can also worsen over time.

Tremor often disrupts regular activities of life. Daily tasks like eating and speaking can become challenging. Many people with tremor find they are self-conscious about going out in public, which can lead to social isolation.

DBS for tremor

If you have tremor and your symptoms have progressed to the point where you and your physician are discussing new therapy options, you may be considering an approved therapy called deep brain stimulation (DBS).

DBS is a therapy that helps reduce tremor. A DBS device looks and works much like a pacemaker, except instead of providing mild pulses of current to your heart, it targets focused areas of the brain. DBS therapy is adjustable, much like medication, and reversible, meaning it can be removed.

Proven effective for essential tremor symptoms

Studies have shown that DBS therapy can be effective in the treatment of essential tremor.2

  • 80% of patients who chose DBS therapy reported mild or no disability after one year of treatment.3
  • 9 out of 10 patients said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the system’s ability to control their symptoms.3
  • 98% of therapy patients would recommend DBS therapy to someone dealing with essential tremor.3
  • Improved quality of life has been noted by both patients and caregivers of DBS recipients, and patients also noticed improvements in their symptoms of depression.3
  • Long-term studies have shown that an improvement in tremor is maintained in the majority of patients up to 10 years and beyond after the surgery.4

While DBS therapy is proven to help manage symptoms related to essential tremor, it is important to understand that DBS is not a cure for tremor. St. Jude Medical™ DBS therapy can treat some of the symptoms of tremor, but does not cure the underlying condition. 

DBS therapy is not for everyone, so it is important to talk with your physician about the benefits and risks. As with any surgery or therapy, DBS has risks and complications. See more about risks for DBS therapy.

Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice from your physician or other health care providers. You should always talk with your physician about your treatment and any symptoms you are experiencing.