Understanding Tremor in Multiple Sclerosis: Prevalence, Pathological Anatomy, and Pharmacological and Surgical Approaches to Treatment
Background: Given that tremor is one of the most prevalent and disabling features of multiple sclerosis (MS), we will review the most significant milestones in tremor in this disease in recent years, focusing on prevalence, clinical features, anatomical basis, and treatment.
Methods: Data for this review were identified by searching MEDLINE with the search terms “multiple sclerosis” and “tremor”. References were also identified from relevant articles published between January 1966 and May 2012.
Results: The predominant type of MS tremor is a large-amplitude, postural, and kinetic tremor, which most commonly affects the arms, although tremor can also involve head, neck, vocal cords, and trunk. Involvement of the tongue, jaw, or palate has not been reported. Although the anatomical basis underlying tremor in MS is poorly understood, the link between the cerebellum and the MS-related tremor is supported by clinical and experimental studies. Currently available medication is often unsuccessful in most cases. Surgical treatment can be a satisfactory alternative to treat severe and disabling tremor.
Discussion: Tremor in MS patients could be considered as an advanced consequence of the disease and its presence suggests a more aggressive course. MS tremor can be severe and very disabling for a small group of patients. Treatment of MS tremor remains a great challenge. Recent studies suggest that dissociating tremor from cerebellar dysfunction using selected clinical tests would be the key issue to successful surgical treatment. Understanding the pathophysiology and biochemistry of tremor production in MS may lead to new therapeutic approaches.