Orthostatic Tremor: An Update on a Rare Entity

  • Julián Benito-León
  • Ángela Domingo-Santos

Abstract

Background: Orthostatic tremor (OT) remains among the most intriguing and poorly understood of movement disorders. Compared to Parkinson’s disease or even essential tremor, there are very few articles addressing more basic science issues. In this review, we will discuss the findings of main case series on OT, including data on etiology, pathophysiology, diagnostic approach, treatment strategies, and outcome.

Methods: Data for this review were identified by searching PUBMED (January 1966 to August 2016) for the terms “orthostatic tremor” or “shaky leg syndrome,” which yielded 219 entries. We did not exclude papers on the basis of language, country, or publication date. The electronic database searches were supplemented by articles in the authors’ files that pertained to this topic.

Results: Owing to its rarity, the current understanding of OT is limited and is mostly based on small case series or case reports. Despite this, a growing body of evidence indicates that OT might be a progressive condition that is clinically heterogeneous (primary vs. secondary cases) with a broader spectrum of clinical features, mainly cerebellar signs, and possible cognitive impairment and personality disturbances. Along with this, advanced neuroimaging techniques are now demonstrating distinct anatomical and functional changes, some of which are consistent with neuronal loss.

Discussion: OT might be a family of diseases, unified by the presence of leg tremor, but further characterized by etiological and clinical heterogeneity. More work is needed to understand the pathogenesis of this condition.