Tremor severity and age: a cross-sectional, population-based study of 2,524 young and midlife normal adults

Mov Disord. 2011 Jul;26(8):1515-20. doi: 10.1002/mds.23674. Epub 2011 Mar 25.


Mild action tremor occurs in most normal people. Yet this tremor mainly has been studied within the context of advanced age rather than among the vast bulk of adults who are not elderly. Whether this tremor worsens during young and middle age is unknown. Using cross-sectional data from a large population-based study of young and midlife normal adults (age range, 18-60 years), we assessed whether increasing age is associated with more severe action tremor. Two thousand five hundred and twenty-four adults in Araihazar, Bangladesh, drew an Archimedes spiral with each hand. Tremor in spirals was rated (0-3) by a blinded neurologist, and a spiral score (range, 0-6) was assigned. Spiral score was correlated with age (r = 0.06, P = .004). With each advancing decade, the spiral score increased (P = .002) so that the spiral score in participants in the highest age group (age 60) was approximately twice that of participants in the youngest age group (age 18-19); P = .003. In the regression model that adjusted for potential confounders (sex, cigarettes, medications, asthma inhalers, and tea and betel nut use), spiral score was associated with age (P = .0045). In this cross-sectional, population-based study of more than 2500 young and midlife normal adults, there was a clear association between age and tremor severity. Although the magnitude of the correlation coefficient was modest, tremor severity was higher with each passing decade. These data suggest that age-dependent increase in tremor amplitude is not restricted to older people but occurs in all adult age groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Community Health Planning
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tremor / diagnosis
  • Tremor / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult