Orthostatic tremor: clinical and electrophysiologic characteristics

Muscle Nerve. 1993 Nov;16(11):1254-60. doi: 10.1002/mus.880161117.


Orthostatic tremor, sometimes known as "shaky legs syndrome," is a disorder of middle-aged or elderly people characterized by feelings of unsteadiness in the legs and a fear of falling when standing. Patients stand on a wide base but walk normally. These symptoms are due to high-frequency (13-18 Hz) burst firing in weight-bearing muscles. They are attenuated by walking and are abolished immediately by sitting. Some authors believe that the disorder is a variant of essential tremor. This study reports the clinical and electrophysiologic features of orthostatic tremor in 30 patients. The findings indicate that orthostatic tremor is distinct from essential tremor, both clinically and electrophysiologically. The major differences are the frequency of electromyographic burst firing, the invariable involvement of lower limb and paraspinal muscles, and the task-specific nature of the tremor in orthostatic tremor. The study shows that the diagnosis can be established rapidly with surface electromyographic recordings.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Arm / physiopathology
  • Clonazepam / therapeutic use
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Tremor / drug therapy
  • Tremor / physiopathology*
  • Valproic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Walking / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology
  • Writing


  • Clonazepam
  • Valproic Acid