Psychogenic Tremor: A Video Guide to Its Distinguishing Features

  • Joseph Jankovic
  • Mary Ann Thenganatt

Abstract

Background: Psychogenic tremor is the most common psychogenic movement disorder. It has characteristic clinical features that can help distinguish it from other tremor disorders. There is no diagnostic gold standard and the diagnosis is based primarily on clinical history and examination. Despite proposed diagnostic criteria, the diagnosis of psychogenic tremor can be challenging. While there are numerous studies evaluating psychogenic tremor in the literature, there are no publications that provide a video/visual guide that demonstrate the clinical characteristics of psychogenic tremor. Educating clinicians about psychogenic tremor will hopefully lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Methods: We selected videos from the database at the Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine that illustrate classic findings supporting the diagnosis of psychogenic tremor.

Results: We include 10 clinical vignettes with accompanying videos that highlight characteristic clinical signs of psychogenic tremor including distractibility, variability, entrainability, suggestibility, and coherence.

Discussion: Psychogenic tremor should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with tremor, particularly if it is of abrupt onset, intermittent, variable and not congruous with organic tremor. The diagnosis of psychogenic tremor, however, should not be simply based on exclusion of organic tremor, such as essential, parkinsonian, or cerebellar tremor, but on positive criteria demonstrating characteristic features. Early recognition and management are critical for good long-term outcome.