If you struggle with hand tremors, Focused Ultrasound can help without surgery. Hand tremors from an essential tremor can have an enormous negative impact on quality of life, and many people are unaware they can be treated without surgery. 

As medical director of Regional One Health’s Focused Ultrasound program, I can help patients get significant, lasting relief from tremors in just a few hours. 

With Focused Ultrasound, there’s no incision, surgery, general anesthesia, or hospital stay. It may sound like a miracle, but it’s an evidence-based, state-of-the-art technology that uses MRI imaging and ultrasound energy focused to ablate the location in the brain causing tremors. 

Our patients must be at least 22 years old with a confirmed diagnosis of essential tremor or tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease. You need to have tried at least 

two medications without success, and we’ll do a CT scan of your skull to make sure it’s compatible. 

If you qualify, your procedure will be performed at our comfortable, convenient East Campus Imaging Center in East Memphis. 

When you arrive, we’ll shave your head and fit you with a specialized head frame. These steps are needed to hold the head still and accurately focus the ultrasound energy. 

During your procedure, you’ll lie on a treatment table. The upper half of your body will move in and out of an MRI several times over 1-2 hours. 

After locating the spot in your brain causing your tremor, I use ultrasound energy to create a small therapeutic ablation. This causes the tremor to stop right before your eyes. 

You’re awake the whole time! That’s important because I’ll ask you how you’re feeling and to perform simple tasks like drawing a spiral or touching your finger to my finger. This lets me gauge how well your treatment is working. 

After that, we will take you to a recovery room. Once we ensure you aren’t having problems, you can go home. 

Most patients leave with major tremor relief. The main possible side effects are mild fatigue, headache, dizziness, clumsiness, numbness, and speech difficulty. Most potential side effects clear up within a few days to weeks. Many patients experience no side effects. 

The FDA recently approved Focused Ultrasound for both hands. Previously, we could only treat one side of the body. Now, nine months after your first procedure, we can treat your other hand if there are significant tremors on both sides. 

It’s hard to understate the impact this procedure can have on a patient’s life. 

People can return to their favorite activities, such as sewing, painting, and gardening. They can also cook and clean. Perhaps most importantly, they can be independent—they don’t need someone else to help them eat, drink, bathe, etc. 

I encourage anyone struggling with hand tremors to learn more. Talk to your neurologist or physician to get started. 

My team loves helping patients get back to the things they enjoy. Focused Ultrasound may not be an actual miracle, but for the patients we help, it can certainly seem that way! 

Neurosurgeon Jason Gerrard, MD PhD, is the medical director for Focused Ultrasound at Regional One Health. Visit regionalonehealth.org/fus to learn if the procedure is right for you and to schedule a consultation. 

By Jason Gerrard, MD, PhD