Why is my body shaking, and how to treat it?

why is my body shaking for no reason
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman

Overview

Is your body shaking without any reason? Chances are you are experiencing a tremor. Tremors are when your body or part of the body shakes uncontrollably. Certain medications or alcohol withdrawals can cause them or can indicate the presence of a serious underlying medical condition. Treatment options may vary depending on the underlying cause. Prescription medications are given if the cause for tremors is a medical condition like hypertension, anxiety, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, or hypoglycemia. Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help improve or cure the body shakes. Thus, a proper diagnosis from a professional medical care provider is essential.

What causes body tremors?

Body tremors can be caused by existing health problems or lifestyle changes. They can directly indicate the presence of neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Body shakes can also occur as side effects of some medications, drug or alcohol withdrawals, or can simply be because of ingesting too much caffeine. Some of the common reasons are discussed below.

Neurological disorders

Tremors are most commonly caused by underlying health conditions. Neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, stroke, or traumatic brain injury can all cause your body to shake. Popular tremor syndromes include:

  • Essential Tremors

Essential Tremor, also called the familial tremor, occurs when both sides of your body shake. You may experience the vibration more intensely on your dominant side. The trembling sensation can shake your hands, arms, and vocal cords and rarely shake your legs and feet. 

  • Parkinson’s disease tremor

Body tremors are the first sign of Parkinson’s disease. A Parkinsonian tremor (PT) is also known as a “pin-rolling tremor.” This is because the tremor feels like rolling a pin between your fingers. It mainly affects your hands and arms but can also appear in the legs, jaw, and lower lip.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, about 70-90% of patients with PD experience tremors at least once in their lives. 

  • Dystonic Tremor

Dystonic Tremors appear in individuals under 50 years of age. The body shakes are so intense that they can cause the limbs to twist or jerk violently. Dystonic tremors can be managed by placing the limbs in certain positions. 

Dystonic tremors can be challenging to differentiate from Essential tremors. A study conducted in 2021 found that clinical signs like abnormal hand posture and irregular, jerky movements are good indicators of identifying Dystonic tremors.

Neurological disorders like Epilepsy can cause involuntary shaking of the body.

Thyroid Disorders

An overactive thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism, speeds up metabolism. It can also cause irregular heartbeat, weight loss, and hand tremors. A study on Thyroid and movement disorders found that about 76% of patients suffering from hyperthyroidism experience tremors, commonly physiological tremors, as a symptom. 

Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can result in shakiness and trembling. These tremors appear when blood sugar levels drop below four millimoles per liter (mmol). Other symptoms like hunger and sweatiness accompany them. You can also experience confusion and concentration problems. 

Stress and fatigue

Physical symptoms like tremors can appear when under extreme stress and fatigue. These tremors can also worsen other tremor-causing conditions, such as Parkinsonian tremors. Being fatigued also heightens other health problems. Take proper rest to help reduce tremors caused by fatigue. 

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders trigger the fight or flight response of the body. This causes the adrenaline hormone to be released into the system, which increases the blood flow to other organs. As a result, your body can start shaking. 

A tremor due to anxiety is often accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath, increased heartbeat (palpitations), chest pain, and dry mouth. 

Alcohol withdrawals 

Alcohol shakes are a common side effect that heavy drinkers may experience when quitting alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal tremors are mainly felt in the fingers and hands. They appear with other physical symptoms like nausea, sweating, and, in severe cases, hallucinations and seizures. 

Stimulants

Too much stimulants like caffeine can cause mild body tremors. The shaky hands you experience after drinking coffee are the caffeine jitters or tremors. They are generally harmless and can wear off in a few hours. Talk to a doctor immediately if tremors persist for more than 12 hours. 

Medications

A wide variety of medications can cause body shakes as a side effect. These tremors appear while taking or after you stop taking the drug. Here are a few medications that can cause body tremors:

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially vitamin B1 deficiency, have serious side effects like anemia, fatigue, and tremors. Genetic disorders like Wilson’s disease can cause copper to build up in the body, resulting in tremors. Another common cause of tremors is dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, specifically sodium, potassium, and calcium.

“Mild tremors don’t have lasting physical effects but can be a source of embarrassment. Leaving them untreated for long can result in serious disability,”

says Dr. Richard Honaker

Types of tremors

Tremors are categorized according to when they appear. There are two main types of body tremors: Rest and action tremors. When the tremor occurs at rest, it is a Rest tremor. Parkinsonian and some Dystonic tremors are resting tremors.  

When the tremor occurs during intentional movement, it is called an Action tremor. These tremors are further simplified into four types.

  • Postural tremors appear while holding a pose against gravity. Essential and drug-induced tremors are types of Postural tremors.
  • Isometric tremor is associated with muscle contraction with no movement, like holding a glass in the same position for too long.
  • Kinetic tremors are muscle contractions during movement. Essential, Dystopian, and Cerebral tremors are included in the category of kinetic tremors. 
  • Task Specific tremor occurs while performing a specific task, such as writing or playing an instrument.

How are tremors treated?

The underlying cause of your tremors will determine how they are treated. Your body does not shake without reason. Depending on the type and severity of the tremor, your doctor will suggest non-surgical or surgical treatment. 

Non-surgical treatment

If an existing health condition is causing your body to shake, treating the disease can stop the tremors. Prescription medication, minimally invasive procedures, and lifestyle changes are all used to treat tremors.

  • Prescription medication

Prescription medication is provided to address the underlying disease causing your body to shake. Common conditions that cause body tremors are high blood pressure, an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar, seizures, multiple sclerosis, and neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Here are some prescription medications for these conditions. 

  • Blood Pressure: Beta-blockers like propranolol and metoprolol are prescribed. 
  • Hyperthyroidism: Drugs like methimazole (Tapazole) or propylthiouracil (PTU) are prescribed to lower hormone production of the overactive thyroid.
  • Epilepsy and seizures: Anti-seizure medication such as Topiramate is given
  • Parkinson’s disease: To manage the symptoms of PD, dopamine agonists such as pramipexole are given 
  • Anxiety: Anxiety can cause panic attacks and body tremors. In severe cases, benzodiazepine depressants are prescribed.
  • Hypoglycemia: 25% Glucose ampoule and dextrose injections help restore blood sugar levels to normal. 
Learn more about Antihypertensive treatment now!
  • Focused ultrasound

Focused ultrasound treats body tremors caused by problems with the thalamus. A beam of ultrasound waves destroys the affected cells. It is popularly used for essential tremors. 

  • Radiofrequency ablation

During Radiofrequency ablation, an electric current is applied to the nerves in the thalamus part of the brain. This disrupts their ability to send or receive signals and stops the tremors. This procedure is a form of long-term treatment and can take more than six months to complete. 

  • Lifestyle changes 

Besides medication, good lifestyle practices can help cure or at least reduce the frequency of body tremors. Some helpful habits you can adopt are

  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Take occupational and physical therapy to manage tremors specific to a body part.
  • Follow a proper plan while withdrawing from alcohol to reduce alcohol shakes. 
  • Avoid stressful conditions and environments.
  • Get proper rest and sleep, as chronic fatigue can cause your body to shake for no reason. 
  • Use lighter utensils and opt for easy-to-wear clothes. This will help reduce the energy required for daily eating and dressing. 

Surgical treatment

Surgical procedures may be performed if tremors can’t be controlled with medications. This is usually a last resort to treat severe tremors that can’t be cured otherwise. 

  • Deep brain stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure in which electrodes are implanted in a part of the brain. Electric impulses are generated through these electrodes, which target the affected cells to cure the medical condition. It is mostly used to treat Parkinsonian and essential tremors.

  • Thalamotomy

Thalamotomy is a surgical procedure to treat tremors in which a part of the thalamus is destroyed. It is not commonly recommended because of the risks and limitations. For example, it can only be performed on one side of the brain, so it is inefficient to use it for tremors that appear on both sides of the body. It also has a low success rate of 30-50%, which is why it is unpopular. 

When to consult a doctor

If body tremors occur frequently and are affecting your ability to perform daily activities, then you should see a doctor. Tremors can also appear as side effects after starting or stopping a medication or alcohol. A healthcare professional will ask about where the tremor happens, the activity you perform when it occurs, your lifestyle changes, and if you have other symptoms along with your tremors. 

Body tremors can be a symptom of serious underlying health conditions. Get a professional diagnosis within minutes.

FAQs about tremor

Is shaking for no reason normal?

A slight shaking in your hand or a jittery feeling is normal and can simply be due to dehydration, low blood sugar, excitement, or ingesting too much caffeine. Shaking or tremors can also be a sign of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or side effects of medications. It is best to consult a doctor if you are frequently shaking for no reason.

What is the best vitamin for essential tremors?

Vitamin supplements can help reduce tremors if deficiency is the underlying cause. Vitamin B1, B6, B12, GABA(gamma-aminobutyric acid), Capyrilc Acid, and Cannabidiol (CBD) can help improve nervous system health and essential tremors.

Why do I feel weak and shaky and tired but have no appetite?

Appetite loss can be caused by fatigue, nausea, food poisoning, infection, stomach viruses, pregnancy, and other minor illnesses. Not eating for too long can result in the shaky feeling you may be experiencing. Eating something light and having proper rest can get rid of this trembling sensation. Frequent appetite loss or tremors frequently can signal a serious underlying condition.

What am I lacking if I feel shaky?

Shaky feelings can be caused by low blood pressure, blood sugar, or dehydration. In serious cases, it can be due to mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Talk to a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or violent body shakes.

Why am I twitching in my sleep?

Twitching while sleeping can be caused by stress, lack of sleep, and high caffeine intake before bed. Sleep twitches can also indicate restless legs syndrome (RLS) or a nervous disorder like Parkinson’s disease.

Why do I feel tremors while lying down and very still?

Mild tremors while lying down can be caused by dehydration or taking foods high in sugar or sodium. If the internal vibrations disrupt sleep, they can be neurological in origin. Medications like Gabapentin help with these tremors, but all drugs should be taken at the doctor’s discretion. 

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Puschmann, Andreas, and Zbigniew K. Wszolek. “Diagnosis and treatment of common forms of tremor.” Seminars in neurology. Vol. 31. No. 01. © Thieme Medical Publishers, 2011.
  • Charles, P. David, et al. “Classification of tremor and update on treatment.” American family physician 59.6 (1999): 1565-1572.
  • Bötzel, Kai, Volker Tronnier, and Thomas Gasser. “The differential diagnosis and treatment of tremor.” Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 111.13 (2014): 225.
  • Schneider, Susanne A., and Günther Deuschl. “The treatment of tremor.” Neurotherapeutics 11.1 (2014): 128-138.

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