Understanding Brain Tumor Tremors: Causes & Symptoms
Discovering a brain tumor in your own or a loved one’s body can be a traumatic and testing experience. On top of doctor’s appointments, diagnostics, and procedural discussions can come other frustrating symptoms associated with treatment and the tumor itself.
Here, we’ll explain the connection between brain tumors and hand tremors, look at the advanced and early symptoms of brain tumors, and finally, discuss treatment options. Read on for an in-depth overview of brain tumor tremors, or see the links below to skip to the topic that best suits your query.
Can Brain Tumors Cause Tremors?
Yes, brain tumors can cause hand tremors, among other symptoms.
Tremors are a type of involuntary movement that may affect the hands, head, arms, torso, and the body’s equilibrium. Tremors are typically caused by issues in certain parts of the brain that control movement, like the cerebellum, for instance.
Brain tumors, in addition to other medical conditions and circumstances, such as essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, exercise fatigue, extreme emotional distress, certain prescription drugs, metabolic problems, and alcohol or drug withdrawal, can also lead to tremors.
Some tremors that are caused by brain tumors or stroke are classified as cerebellar tremors. These tremors are usually easy to identify and most often affect the extremities, such as arms and legs. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke illustrates cerebellar tremor with an example of trembling after trying to complete a purposeful movement, like pressing a button.
Cerebellar tremors can be caused by brain tumors and stroke, as well as multiple sclerosis, inherited degenerative disorders, Fragile X syndrome, and severe damage to the cerebellum caused by alcoholism.
Now that we’ve covered the basic connection between brain tumors and hand tremors, let’s take a closer look at the causes and some other early symptoms of brain tumors.
What are Brain Tumors?
A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of cells in the brain; some tumors are cancerous while others are not. Primary brain tumors originate in the brain or may be metastatic, which means that they started in another part of the body and eventually spread to the brain.
Primary brain tumors are a result of mutated DNA that allows cells to grow and divide rapidly, ultimately forming a large mass of cells in the brain; otherwise known as a brain tumor. Metastatic brain tumors originate elsewhere in the body and typically relate to melanoma, breast, kidney, lung, and colon cancers. Additionally, those with a history of brain tumors or individuals who have been exposed to radiation have an increased risk of developing brain tumors.
Brain tumors may grow gradually or very quickly, which, in combination with location, determines how it will impact your nervous system and brain function.
There are many different types of brain tumors, including:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Brain metastases
- Choroid plexus carcinoma
- Embryonal tumors
- Pediatric brain tumors
- Pituitary tumors
Symptoms of Brain Tumors
The symptoms of brain tumors vary greatly depending on size, location, and rate of growth. According to the Mayo Clinic, brain tumor symptoms can include:
- Trembling, muscle jerking
- New onset or change in pattern of headaches
- Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting
- Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or loss of peripheral vision
- Gradual loss of sensation or movement in arms and/or legs
- Difficulty with balance
- Speech difficulties
- Confusion in everyday matters
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Seizures, especially in someone without a history of seizures
- Hearing problems
Treatments for Brain Tumors
If you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, your physician may suggest a number of tests and treatment options, or a combination of a few.
According to the Mayo Clinic, treatments for brain tumors can include:
- Targeted drug therapy
Treatment Options for Tremors
How to treat tremors
As for brain tumor tremors and other types of tremors, your doctor may recommend a variety of tremor treatments and procedures, including medication, surgical procedures, and lifestyle changes. Let’s take a closer look at these treatment options below.
- Beta-blocking medication: Propranolol, for example, is typically used to treat high blood pressure, but it can also help with essential tremor. Propranolol can also be used to treat other forms of action tremors in certain patients. Atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol, and sotalol are some of the other beta-blockers that can be used. While these medications can be used to manage brain tumor tremors and other tremor variants, they’re also associated with several undesirable side effects, including fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, trouble sleeping, shortness of breath, and depression.
- Anti-seizure medication: People with essential tremor who do not respond to beta-blockers can benefit from primidone. It’s worth noting, however, that certain anti-seizure drugs can have adverse effects that can actually induce tremors.
- Tranquilizers (benzodiazepine): Alprazolam and clonazepam are two types of benzodiazepines that can temporarily reduce tremor symptoms. However, they’re not commonly used because of their intense and potentially dangerous side effects, including drowsiness, poor coordination, and physical dependency.
- Parkinson’s disease medications: Levodopa and carbidopa are primarily used to treat tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. These medications can present side effects such as dizziness, loss of appetite, headaches, and trouble sleeping.
- Botox: Botulinum toxin injections can be used to treat many different types of tremors but are most often used to target head tremors. Botox injections can alleviate tremor symptoms for several months at a time, but it may also cause muscle weakness in some individuals.
- Focused ultrasound is a modern therapy for essential tremors. It uses magnetic resonance imaging to deliver a targeted ultrasound to create minor lesions in the brain. Only those with an essential tremor who do not respond or react well to anticonvulsant or beta-blocking drugs are eligible for the treatment.
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a low risk, effective surgery that is commonly used to treat essential tremors, Parkinsonian tremors, and dystonia. DBS surgically implants electrodes in the brain which apply high-frequency electrical signals. These signals stimulate the thalamus, temporarily halting tremors.
- Gamma Knife® thalamotomy is a form of computer-assisted radiation surgery used to treat brain disorders such as tremors. Up to 192 radiation beams are used in the surgery to accurately treat areas of the brain.
- Non-surgical therapy is a groundbreaking approach to treatment of essential tremor. Cala Health’s hand tremor device is a medical device that sends electrical signals to the nerves in your wrist. These signals stimulate the nerves in your wrist and the central brain network, alleviating hand tremors due to essential tremor.
- Physical, speech, and occupational therapy can also be used to manage tremors and help individuals learn how to adjust so that they can complete typical tasks, despite their tremor. This may involve strength and coordination training, using assistive devices, and adaptability.
- Avoiding tremor-inducing substances is another strategy physicians may recommend to people dealing with tremors. Caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications are some common examples of substances that may trigger or exacerbate tremors.
Takeaways: Navigating Tremors Caused by Brain Tumors
Tremors can be caused by a number of underlying conditions, including brain tumors. Brain tumors can be a very serious diagnosis that may require intensive treatments, ranging from surgery and radiation to chemotherapy.
While many of the symptoms associated with brain tumors are troubling, tremors can be among the most challenging when it comes to completing daily tasks, such as eating and drinking, reaching for household supplies, and catching up with friends and family.
Cala Trio therapy is FDA-cleared for use in the temporary relief of essential tremor in adults. Tremors caused by brain tumors have a different underlying cause. Only your doctor can determine what is causing your tremors and how best to treat them.
No matter the origin of your tremor, you can use this informational guide to start up a conversation about tremor treatment with your doctor.