Essential tremor, a very common misdiagnosis in people with Parkinson’s disease

By Treven Pyles

Posted on March 12th, 2021

As the most common trembling disorder, essential tremor currently affects 4% of people over the age of 40 in the United States. It is a neurological disorder that causes the sufferer to experience rhythmical and involuntary shaking. Essential tremor is often misdiagnosed in people with Parkinson's disease.

The majority of cases of essential tremor occur as a result of a genetic mutation. While the disorder is most common in people over the age of 40, it can occur at any age. Approximately 50% of patients with essential tremor have a family history of this brain disorder. Because the symptoms of essential tremor are very similar to those of Parkinson's disease, individuals with the latter frequently receive this diagnosis. For this reason, if you have a family member with a history of paraquat exposure who experiences the following symptoms, it is crucial to encourage them to seek a second and even a third opinion from different medical specialists, as their risk of developing Parkinson's disease is 250% higher than that of the general population:

  • tremors that are most apparent in the hands
  • difficulty performing tasks with the hands, such as writing or eating
  • shaking or quivering sound in the voice
  • involuntary head nodding
  • tremors in the legs or feet, in rare cases
  • balance and incoordination problems
  • tremors that worsen with movement
  • the symptoms may become more intense with emotional stress

According to medical studies, up to 7 million people in the United States struggle with essential tremor. This brain disorder is progressive, which means that the symptoms tend to worsen over the years. The exact cause of essential tremor has not yet been found. People with this condition may experience a series of other motor symptoms, such as unsteady manner of walking as a consequence of inability to coordinate voluntary movements. Furthermore, people who suffer from essential tremor often come to struggle with serious psychosocial issues such as depression and anxiety, which may considerably disrupt everyday activities and social interactions. The average rate of progression of essential tremor was found to be 1.5% to 5% per year by recent medical studies.

What is the difference between essential tremor and Parkinson's disease?

When assessing the health of a person with a trembling disorder, medical professionals must look for certain key aspects that differentiate this condition from Parkinson's disease, as up to 30% of people with the latter initially receive a wrong diagnosis. The main differences between essential tremor and Parkinson's disease concern the following aspects:

  • the timing of tremors: in people with essential tremor, trembling occurs when they use their hands, whereas in individuals with Parkinson's disease, trembling occurs when their hands are at their sides or resting in their lap
  • related conditions: while essential tremor usually do not cause additional health problems, people with Parkinson's disease experience stooped posture, slow movement and shuffling gait
  • the affected parts of the body: the hands, voice and head are typically the parts of the body affected by essential tremor, whereas the trembling associated with Parkinson's disease starts in the hands and subsequently affects the legs, chin and other parts of the body

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people with Parkinson's disease are misdiagnosed, often with essential tremor. Thereby, if you have a family member with a history of paraquat exposure who experiences trembling, it is very important to have multiple specialists assess their health in order to receive a correct and accurate diagnosis. If they are initially diagnosed with essential tremor, you need to seek another opinion from a different medical expert, as people with paraquat exposure usually develop Parkinson's disease. When they have this diagnosis, you can help them recover the financial compensation they are eligible for with the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure.

File a paraquat claim with the help of our skilful legal team

With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation on behalf of victims of toxic exposure, our attorneys are ready to provide your family member with quality legal assistance if they were exposed to paraquat and developed Parkinson's disease. Because we are aware that individuals who struggle with this brain disorder have a difficult time explaining their situation, your help will be essential in the legal process. However, the legal process will require minimal involvement on your part, as the only documents you will need to send our legal team are evidence of paraquat exposure and proof of diagnosis for your family member. The rest of the paperwork will be efficiently taken care of by our resourceful legal experts on your behalf.

A very important aspect you should keep in mind if you intend to have your family member file a paraquat claim is the statute of limitations. It refers to the timeframe within which they can file their paraquat claim and varies from state to state. Nevertheless, most of the states have a statute of limitations of 2 or 3 years from the moment your family member receives their diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. If the statute of limitations is exceeded, they will no longer qualify for compensation from the liable paraquat manufacturers. Therefore, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a specialized attorney as soon as they have their diagnosis. Eventually, following claim submission, you will obtain the maximum compensation available for the diagnosis of your family member on their behalf. For more information, please feel free to contact us.