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How can I steady my hands?

  1. Aug 25, 2004 #1

    ShawnD

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    My hands are very shaky all the time. What can I do to make my hands more steady?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2004 #2

    Moonbear

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    All the time, not just when trying to do tasks that require fine motor skills? I suggest you mention this next time you see a doctor. Maybe it's nothing, but there are a number of illnesses/disorders that include shaky hands as a symptom. One is hyperthyroidism (if you also lose weight despite eating a lot, feel like you have a really fast heart rate, and feel like you have lots of energy but can't focus, that could be the culprit), another is hypoglycemia (does the problem get worse before meals?)...both of these are treatable. Over-consumption of caffeine and/or sugar will do it to you too. If you're a coffee or soda addict, cutting back will help (do this slowly...you'll get caffeine withdrawal headaches if you're really addicted). There are other possible neurological reasons for shaky hands, but rule out the easily treated stuff first.

    For example, I work with a woman who has MS, and her hands shake all the time. Since we work in a lab, she has to do a lot of fine motor tasks, so needs to get some of that shaking under control to do what she has to get done. So, we work on ways for her to help steady her hands, which anyone can use, and I learned to use when drinking too much coffee :wink: Rest your hand or forearm on your work surface, you can brace one hand with the other (ever see on TV or in the movies when someone is aiming a gun and braces their wrist with their other hand for steadiness? You can do the same for anything). Create a fulcrum for any instruments/tools you are working with to steady them...for example, a common thing I see in biology is students who have never been taught to hold scissors properly (for doing dissections)...I blame their kindergarten teachers of course! I've seen a lot of students who put their thumb through one hole in the scissor handle and their forefinger through the other, and then have no control whatsoever of what the scissors are doing. Instead of using your forefinger, put your middle finger through the hole in the scissors, and then brace the scissor with your forefinger along the blade of the scissor (not between the blades where you'll cut yourself!). Similar approaches to these can be used for any number of situations/tools. For example, when using a screwdriver, you'll have best control if you have one hand on the handle doing the pushing and turning, and the other hand on the shaft keeping it steady.
     
  4. Aug 25, 2004 #3

    cepheid

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    Hey...thanks for the advice about holding tools etc! By the way, do you mean that a little bit of trembling is normal during such tasks? Because I remember thinking while learning how to solder circuits for the first time in the lab, "good thing I didn't try for medicine...I'd have made a lousy surgeon." :wink:

    But my hand shaking at times seems almost non-existant, but at other times more pronounced than usual. One time when I was holding a cup and saucer with one hand, they clattered, and my cousin noticed and said "why are your hands shaking so much?" We were visiting family at that time, so I realise that it could have been anything from too much tea (lol) to irregular sleep cycles to jet lag, to no breakfast etc. Oh well, just like the guy who started the thread, I'll have to live with the fact that I don't have super steady hands even at the best of times
     
  5. Aug 25, 2004 #4

    Monique

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    I learned how to properly hold scissors from a heart surgeon, and also how to make knots with a single hand :biggrin: I was especially surprised by the scissor trick, never succeeded in the knot making :(

    ShawnD, like moonbear said I'd first check out whether it could be caffeine, low sugar or fatigue. Caffeine can make me very jittery :)

    oh, and if after a doctors visit you still haven't figured out what's the cause: try to become more physically active if you aren't already, I guess that should improve your posture and give you better control.

    and oh! couldn't it be rsi? repetitive strain injury?
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2004
  6. Aug 25, 2004 #5

    Math Is Hard

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    ShawnD - Go easy on the alcohol, too. :wink:
     
  7. Aug 25, 2004 #6

    Moonbear

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    It can also just be muscle fatigue. Sometimes concentrating harder on not shaking makes you more tense, so you shake more! Try to relax your back, shoulders and arms when doing such tasks. It can also be nervousness, such as learning a new task while somebody is standing over your shoulder making sure you do it correctly.

    Cepheid, yes, some trembling can be normal (it shouldn't be excessive or all the time though, then consider that there is another cause to hunt down). That's why surgeons use such tricks to steady their hands and instruments. Of course, sometimes even that won't help. One day I was scheduled to do some mouse surgery, and made the mistake of stopping at Starbucks at lunchtime for one of their espresso drinks...I was feeling a little tired and felt in the mood for it, and just didn't think about it. I ended up cancelling doing the surgeries in the afternoon...I realized when I couldn't even steady my hands enough to inject the anesthetic that I was doomed. I haven't made that mistake again! Only one cup of coffee in the morning on surgery days.
     
  8. Aug 25, 2004 #7
    A doctor may prescribe a beta blocker like Inderal (propranolol) to reduce the tremors due to pseudoparkinsonism.
     
  9. Aug 25, 2004 #8

    Moonbear

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    However, I'd steer clear of any doctor who just prescribes propanolol without a full work-up to identify the underlying problem if he/she deems it necessary to medicate. Propanolol will stop the tremors, and mask the symptoms, but won't do anything for the underlying problem. This is also often used for patients with hyperthyroidism to treat some of the symptoms while getting their thyroid hormone levels under control (either through medication, or radiation or surgical ablation of part of the thyroid gland).
     
  10. Aug 25, 2004 #9
    Acetylcarnitine and lipoic acid for shaky hands

    You may want to direct your question to sci.life-extension.


    • From: Dan Helm (dhelm@visi.com)
      Subject: Re: Deprenyl/shaky hands (and birth control) ?
      Newsgroups: rec.drugs.smart, sci.life-extension
      Date: 2004-04-09 20:58:38 PST

      Perhaps a different point of view.

      I doubt your improvement is due to the Deprenyl. (Note: I am not
      knocking Deprenyl, GPC, Vinpocetine, or Piracetam - I use all 4
      myself.) Deprenyl is therapeutic for Parkinson's because it slows the
      progression of the disease by protecting the cells that produce
      dopamine. It does not to the best of my knowledge increase the
      production of dopamine.

      My guess is your improvement is due mainly to the Piracetam and GPC.
      The Piracetam improves O2 metabolism in the brain -> thereby,
      improving cell performance (in your case improving muscle
      communication\control -> thus less shaking). GPC also improves brain
      chemical metabolism. These 2 supplements would help you get more
      activity from the brain cells that control motion - more activity ->
      more muscle stimulation -> less shaking (your shaking is probably
      caused by not enough signal stimulation of your muscles).

      You would probably also find ALC (Acetyl-L-carnitine) helpful. If you
      take ALC you should also take R+ lipoic acid with it.
     
  11. Aug 25, 2004 #10

    ShawnD

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    It's much worse before meals. Constantly eating throughout the day would probably help, but how can I do that without becoming fat?
     
  12. Aug 25, 2004 #11

    Moonbear

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    Consider what you eat. Some foods will give you a quick sugar rush and then you crash, others will help you maintain more steady sugar levels. Also, you could break your three large meals a day down to several smaller meals, so not actually eat more, just spread it out more evenly through the day. However, if the shaking gets really bad before meals, you probably should see your doctor about it...you may be metabolizing your food too quickly to last to the next meal. Lots of things can cause this...pretty much the same list as above, including too much caffeine. Of course, if you're burning the calories off fast enough to get shaky before your next meal, you're not likely to get fat by adding an extra snack in between meals. Fruits and veggies are good snacks to last between meals without getting you fat.
     
  13. Aug 26, 2004 #12
    stop jerkin off so much! :biggrin:
     
  14. Aug 26, 2004 #13

    Monique

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    ShawnD: if it is really bothering you you should visit an MD, the internet is a good place to get suggestions but certainly not one to get a diagnosis :smile: I'd have your bloodsugar levels checked out to see if you get hypoglycemic before meals: low bloodsugar. I'm not a doctor or anything, so it's just a word of advice :smile:
     
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