Paradoxical aspects of parkinsonian tremor


  • Paul S. Fishman MD, PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, University of Maryland, School of Medicine and The Baltimore VAMC, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
    • Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 22 South Greene Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

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Although resting tremor is the most identifiable sign of Parkinson's disease, its underlying basis appears to be the most complex of the cardinal signs. The variable relationship of resting tremor to other symptoms of PD has implications for diagnosis, prognosis, medical and surgical treatment. Structural lesions very rarely cause classic resting tremor, with likely contributions to tremor by a network of neurons both within and outside the basal ganglia. Patients with only resting tremor show dopaminergic deficits with radioligand imaging, but severity of tremor correlates poorly in such dopamine imaging studies. Correlation of tremor severity to changes in radioligand studies is also limited by the use of mostly qualitative measures of tremor severity. A complex pharmacologic basis of parkinsonian resting tremor is supported by treatment studies. Although levodopa is clearly effective for resting tremor, several agents have shown efficacy that appears to be superior or additive to that of levodopa including anticholinergics, clozapine, pramipexole, and budipine. Although the thalamus has the greatest body of evidence supporting its role as an effective target for surgical treatment of tremor, recent studies suggest that the subthalamic nucleus may be a reasonable alternative target for patients with Parkinson's disease and severe tremor as the predominant symptom. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society