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Ask the Doctor: Can you get shaky hands from stress?

 

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File photo (Joe Giddens/PA)

File photo (Joe Giddens/PA)

File photo (Joe Giddens/PA)

Q My mother's hand has developed a shake. She maintains it happened during a stressful time last summer and that it goes away when she's not stressed. She also says she's been to her GP about it and he told her not to worry.

But I've been observing her closely and even when she doesn't seem stressed, she still has the shake. She's quite independent, still drives, is generally in good health and is in her late 70s. But this is really worrying me. Should I make her get a second opinion?

A It is only natural to worry about your elderly mother. The majority of people with a tremor will jump to the worst case scenario and be fearful of a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD). The diagnosis of PD can be challenging early on. Unfortunately, there is no single diagnostic test (blood test or brain scan) and expert clinical opinion is usually required especially when patients present early with the disease. Remember benign physiologic tremors can occur with hyperthyroidism, low blood sugars or due to a medication side effect. If these simple things are corrected, the tremor resolves.