What can cause hand tremors?

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Hand tremors affect many people, and often signify nothing more than a little too much caffeine. But a tremor could be a sign of a more serious medical or emotional problem, so it is important to talk to your doctor about any consistent tremors.

The Facts

A hand tremor is the uncontrollable shaking of either or both hands. It often occurs among older people as a normal part of the ageing process, but it can affect someone of any age. Tremors are often connected with emotional changes like anger or depression, but sometimes signify a larger medical problem.


Hand tremors can manifest themselves in three basic ways. First, static tremors occur only when the hand is at rest. Second, kinetic tremors are just the opposite, and occur only when the hand is in motion. Finally, postural tremors occur only when the hand is held in a particular position. Any of these types of tremors can be familial; that is, they run in your family. It is important to understand your family's medical history when seeking help for your tremors, since it may help explain the tremors' origin.


Hand tremors happen for a variety of reasons. Caffeine or alcohol might cause the shaking, as will alcohol withdrawal. Stress from work or school might contribute, or it might just be part of the ageing process. Yet the cause may be more serious, indicating Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disorders or low blood sugar. In addition, hand tremors can be caused by medication taken for another problem altogether, so it's important to consult with a doctor about any medications being taken.


For the stress-induced hand tremors, daily mediation, deep-breathing exercises, and a few more hours of sleep each night can help prevent any problems. Likewise, if caffeine is the issue, a few more hours of sleep and a little less coffee can help eliminate the tremors. If alcohol abuse is the cause, take the steps with friends and family to get help. Finally, if none of these apply, immediately contact a doctor to help analyse the cause and prescribe appropriate medication.


Hand tremors may not seem like something to worry about if they do not seriously affect your day-to-day activity. But for some, regular and severe hand tremors disrupt life in a big way, at work and at home. In any case, and especially if the tremors are severe enough to disrupt your life, talk to a doctor and identify the solution.

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