Diagnosing essential tremor involves reviewing your medical history, family history and symptoms and conducting a physical examination.

There are no medical tests to diagnose essential tremor. Diagnosing it is often a matter of ruling out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms. To do this, your doctor may suggest the following tests:

Neurological examination

In a neurological examination, your doctor surveys your nervous system functioning, including checking your:

  • Tendon reflexes
  • Muscle strength and tone
  • Ability to feel certain sensations
  • Posture and coordination
  • Gait

Laboratory tests

Your blood and urine may be tested for several factors, including:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Metabolic problems
  • Drug side effects
  • Alcohol levels
  • Levels of chemicals that may cause tremor

Performance tests

To evaluate the tremor itself, your doctor may ask you to:

  • Drink from a glass
  • Hold your arms outstretched
  • Write
  • Draw a spiral

If your doctor is still unsure if your tremor is essential tremor or Parkinson's disease, he or she might order a dopamine transporter scan. This can tell the difference between the two types of tremor.