Skip to main content

Tremors are an involuntary movement in the limbs, body or head. It can look like trembling, jerking, twitching or shaking. Tremors can make it harder to speak, eat, drink, hold objects or move around.

Tremors can have a large social and emotional impact, as many people can feel embarrassed or frustrated by the loss of control. If you’re experiencing MS tremors, it can help to talk to your friends, family and even strangers. You may find your symptoms are less noticeable than you thought, which can help you take control and feel more confident in living with MS.

Know that we’re here to support you, every step of the way. Call us on 1800 042 138 to speak to someone who has in-depth experience and knowledge of MS.

How can MS cause tremors?

Your body is controlled by a complex network of nerve pathways that work together to control your movements. MS damages these connective nerves, making it harder for your body and brain to work together in harmony. This can lead to people with MS experiencing tremors.

If you have MS and experience tremors, some associated symptoms include difficulty swallowing or difficulty speaking. This is because these activities include many of the same pathways involved in coordinating movement.

Over time, MS tremors tend to get worse. However, with management strategies, including lifestyle changes, medications and support from your medical team and allied health professionals, you can move more freely and reduce your symptoms.

Types of tremors

This is the most common type of tremor for people with MS. It happens during physical movement (i.e., the intention to do an action), so there’s no tremor when the person is resting. An intention tremor could happen when you attempt to do something like reach for an object, try to touch your face or move your foot to a precise spot.

Postural tremors happen when a limb is held in a position against gravity. For example, their arms will shake when they hold their arms outstretched. Postural tremors can happen when a person is sitting or standing, but not when they’re lying down.

Resting tremors happen when the muscles are relaxed and aren’t moving. For example, someone’s hands, legs or arms may shake while they’re sitting still or at rest. Resting tremors are more common in Parkinson’s disease than in MS.

Ways to manage or treat tremors

Managing tremors starts with a few changes to your lifestyle and routine. An MS nurse or an occupational therapist can help you find the best techniques to manage your tremors.

Some management strategies include:

  • Concentrate and only do one thing at a time.
  • Plan movements in your head before you do them.
  • Use hand, arm or leg weights to reduce tremors.
  • Put non-slip mats in your kitchen and bathroom to reduce the chance of falling if you lose your balance.
  • Avoid using clothes with fiddly buttons or zips.

This page has been reviewed and approved by Executive Manager Client Engagement and Wellbeing Jodi Haartsen. Jodi is a registered MS Nurse who has helped thousands of patients over her 20 years’ experience at Eastern Health MS service in Australia, in several roles including nurse educator, research nurse and nurse practitioner. Jodi is the 2022 winner of the global MS Brain Health Leader Award in the Independent Healthcare Professionals category.

Learn more about MS

Get news and updates from MS Plus

Sign up