Historical and clinical features of psychogenic tremor: a review of 70 cases

Can J Neurol Sci. 1999 Aug;26(3):190-5. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100000238.


Objectives: To review the clinical characteristics and associated features found in patients with psychogenic tremor.

Methods: Ten-year retrospective review of charts of all patients and videotapes of fifty-one patients diagnosed by the senior author as having psychogenic tremor.

Results: Seventy patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for clinically definite psychogenic tremors. Psychogenic tremors usually started abruptly (73%), often with the maximal disability at onset (46%), and then took static (46%) or fluctuating (17%) courses. Psychogenic tremors usually started in one limb and spread rapidly to a generalized or mixed distribution. Spontaneous resolution and recurrence, easy distractibility together with entrainment and response to suggestion were characteristic features. Presence of functional symptoms and signs and refractoriness to conventional antitremor drugs were common.

Conclusions: Psychogenic tremor is generally not a diagnosis of exclusion. The presence of characteristic features on history and especially clinical examination can permit an accurate diagnosis and avoid unnecessary investigations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tremor / diagnosis*
  • Tremor / etiology
  • Tremor / physiopathology
  • Tremor / psychology
  • Videotape Recording