Orthostatic tremor: an essential tremor variant?

Mov Disord. 1988;3(2):97-108. doi: 10.1002/mds.870030201.


Three patients with a clear-cut history of essential tremor of the upper limbs presented with the clinical features reported by Heilman as orthostatic tremor. Electromyographic findings included 6-8 Hz postural tremor in all four limbs. Highly synchronized 16 Hz rhythmic discharges were found in the legs upon standing. This peculiar pattern of discharge was also observed in the upper limbs and spinal muscles. High frequency rhythmic bursts, either alternating or co-contracting were present in specific postures not necessarily related to standing. An additional group of 12 patients with postural tremor of the legs was studied; seven of these showed modification in the frequency and synchronization of the muscle discharges upon standing. Although none of them had the full-blown clinical syndrome of orthostatic tremor, they complained of mild unsteadiness upon standing, together with a vague sensation of stiffness in the lower limbs. The present findings induce us to think that there might be a link between essential tremor and the so-called orthostatic tremor. Orthostatic tremor might be an essential-tremor-related entity that may be caused by a derangement in the central mechanism in charge of the organization of certain motor activities, not necessarily controlling the standing position.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electromyography
  • Extremities / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Posture
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Tremor / physiopathology*