Essential tremor plus rest tremor: current concepts and controversies

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2022 Jul;129(7):835-846. doi: 10.1007/s00702-022-02516-2. Epub 2022 Jun 7.


Since the initial description of Essential Tremor (ET), the entity of ET with rest tremor has proven to be a controversial concept. Some authors argued it could be a late manifestation of ET, others suggested it could be a variant of ET, yet others suggested it could represent a transitional state between ET and Parkinson's disease. The novel tremor classification has proposed the construct of ET-plus to differentiate patients with rest tremor from pure ET. However, there is no clarity of what ET-plus rest tremor represents. With the aim of shedding light on this controversial entity, we have, therefore, systematically reviewed all clinical, electrophysiological, imaging and anatomopathological studies indexed in the Medline database published both before and after the new tremor classification and involving patients with ET-plus rest tremor. Forty-four studies involving 4028 patients were included in this review and analyzed in detail by means of descriptive statistics. The results of the current review suggest that ET-plus rest tremor is a heterogenous group of conditions: thus, rest tremor might represent a late feature of ET, might reflect a different disorder with higher age at onset and lower dependance on genetic susceptibility than ET, might suggest the development of Parkinson's disease or might indicate a misdiagnosis of ET. The reviewed lines of evidence refuse recent claims arguing against the construct of ET-plus, which should be viewed as a syndrome with different possible underpinnings, and highlights methodological issues to be solved in future research.

Keywords: Aging-related tremor; Cerebellar pathology; Dystonic tremor; Functional MRI; Lewy body pathology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Essential Tremor* / diagnosis
  • Essential Tremor* / pathology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnosis
  • Tremor / diagnosis