Therapeutic Advances in the Treatment of Holmes Tremor: Systematic Review

Neuromodulation. 2022 Aug;25(6):796-803. doi: 10.1111/ner.13220. Epub 2022 Feb 15.


Objective: We aimed to formulate a practical clinical treatment algorithm for Holmes tremor (HT) by reviewing currently published clinical data.

Materials and methods: We performed a systematic review of articles discussing the management of HT published between January 1990 and December 2018. We examined data from 89 patients published across 58 studies detailing the effects of pharmacological or surgical interventions on HT severity. Clinical outcomes were measured by a continuous 1-10 ranked scale. The majority of studies addressing treatment response were case series or case reports. No randomized control studies were identified.

Results: Our review included 24 studies focusing on pharmacologic treatments of 25 HT patients and 34 studies focusing on the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in 64 patients. In the medical intervention group, the most commonly used drugs were levetiracetam, trihexyphenidyl, and levodopa. In the surgically treated group, the thalamic ventralis intermedius nucleus (VIM) and globus pallidus internus (GPi) were the most common brain targets for neuromodulation. The two targets accounted for 57.8% and 32.8% of total cases, respectively. Overall, compared to the medically treated group, DBS provided greater tremor suppression (p = 0.025) and was more effective for the management of postural tremor in HT. Moreover, GPi DBS displayed greater benefit in the resting tremor component (p = 0.042) and overall tremor reduction (p = 0.022).

Conclusions: There is a highly variable response to different medical treatments in HT without randomized clinical trials available to dictate treatment decisions. A variety of medical and surgical treatment options can be considered for the management of HT. Collaborative research between different institutions and researchers are warranted and needed to improve our understanding of the pathophysiology and management of this condition. In this review, we propose a practical treatment algorithm for HT based on currently available evidence.

Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; Holmes tremor; midbrain tremor; rubral tremor; tremor treatment; uncommon tremors.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / adverse effects
  • Globus Pallidus
  • Humans
  • Levodopa
  • Thalamic Nuclei
  • Tremor* / etiology


  • Levodopa