Nervous system conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease may cause internal vibrations, which feel like tremors within your body. Treating their cause may help you manage internal tremors.
Internal vibrations are like tremors that happen inside your body. You can’t see internal vibrations, but you can feel them. They produce a quivering sensation inside your arms, legs, chest, or abdomen.
Internal vibrations aren’t as life-altering as external tremors. For example, you won’t physically shake while trying to pour a cup of tea or write a letter.
Still, internal tremors can feel unpleasant. And because they aren’t visible, these tremors can be hard to explain to a doctor. Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes of your internal tremors and the next steps.
Tremors may occur due to an issue in the brain that affects the nerves controlling your muscles. Internal vibrations may stem from the same causes as tremors. The shaking may simply be too subtle to see with human vision.
Various neurological disorders can cause trembling. These can include:
One older study from 2015 reported that 33% of people with Parkinson’s disease experienced internal vibrations, while 36% of people with MS and 55% of people with essential tremor reported feeling them. Sometimes, anxiety
People who experience internal tremors may have other sensory symptoms associated with a neurological disorder. The symptoms you have may inform what tests a doctor orders to diagnose the cause of your internal tremors.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can include:
- tight muscles that are hard to move
- slow, shuffling, stiff movements
- impaired balance and coordination
- small handwriting
- quiet or hoarse voice
- a serious look on your face called a mask
- trouble sleeping
- loss of your sense of smell
Symptoms of essential tremor include:
- small movements of the arms and legs, especially when you are active
- head nodding
- quivering or shaky voice
- trouble with balance
- problems writing
If you’re having internal vibrations with or without other neurological symptoms, consider talking with a doctor. Other concerning symptoms may include:
A primary care doctor may also refer you to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain and nervous system.
During a visit, the doctor typically asks about your symptoms and medical history and performs tests to check for signs of neurologic conditions that can cause tremors. A doctor may ask you to perform a series of tasks to test your:
- muscle tone
- movement and walking ability
- balance and coordination
The doctor may also order one or more tests:
- electromyogram, which measures how well your muscles respond to stimulation
- evoked potential tests, which use electrodes to measure how well your nervous system responds to stimulation
- lumbar puncture (spinal tap), which removes a sample of fluid from around your spinal cord to look for signs of MS
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which can show lesions in your brain and spinal cord
A tremor that no one can see can be hard to describe to a doctor. To help you explain this symptom, consider keeping a diary of your tremors. Write down:
- at what time of the day they happen
- what you were doing when they started
- what they feel like
- how long they last
- any other symptoms you have with them, such as dizziness or weakness
You can bring this diary with you to your appointments. Use it as a guide during conversations with a doctor.
Treatment for internal tremors may depend on their cause. To get the right treatment, you need an accurate diagnosis.
Sometimes internal vibrations may improve once you treat the condition causing them. Other times, doctors may recommend medications to manage this symptom.
Drugs for an underlying condition
The medications a doctor may prescribe for internal tremors can depend on the underlying diagnosis.
For Parkinson’s disease, doctors may prescribe drugs that increase the amount of dopamine in your brain or mimic the effects of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps your body move smoothly. Medications for Parkinson’s disease can include:
- dopamine agonists to help the body produce more dopamine
- enzyme inhibitors, which help slow down the breakdown of dopamine in the brain
- anticholinergic drugs to manage tremors
- amantadine to treat movement disorders
Essential tremor is treated with a type of blood pressure drug called a beta-blocker. It may also be treated with antiseizure medications.
MS treatment depends on the type of MS and its progression. It may include steroids to bring down inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. Other treatments include disease-modifying drugs like interferon and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone).
Drugs to control tremors
Certain medications can also specifically help control tremors. These drugs include:
- anticholinergic drugs like trihexyphenidyl (Artane) and benztropine (Cogentin)
- botulinum toxin A (Botox)
- tranquilizers such as alprazolam (Xanax) or clonazepam (Klonopin), if anxiety causes your tremors
Working with a physical therapist can help you gain better muscle control, which may help with tremors.
If other treatments haven’t worked, a doctor might recommend surgery.
If your tremors are due to Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor, a doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which a surgeon implants electrodes in your brain and a battery-operated generator in your chest. The generator delivers electrical pulses to parts of your brain that control movement.
Internal tremors aren’t dangerous. But they may interfere with your daily life. Whether this symptom improves depends on what’s causing the tremors and your treatment plan.
For some underlying causes of internal tremors, finding the right treatment might involve trial and error.
If your first medication doesn’t work, a doctor may recommend another option. While the tremor may not go away entirely, you may be able to control it enough that it no longer bothers you.
An inner tremor is one you feel, but that may be too subtle for the human eye to see. Tremors may indicate a neurologic condition, especially if they occur with other symptoms.
You may need to meet with a neurologist and undergo tests to determine the underlying cause of your tremors.
Treatment typically involves managing the underlying condition.