Am I a Candidate? DBS for Essential Tremor

If medication no longer controls your essential tremor well, or causes severe side effects, it may be time to consider deep brain stimulation. The information on this page can help you learn whether you are a good candidate for DBS.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your doctor or other health care provider about a medical condition.

Has your doctor diagnosed you with essential tremor?

The first step to being a candidate for DBS is to be diagnosed with essential tremor by your doctor.

To be considered for DBS, you need to be diagnosed with essential tremor. Please make an appointment with your family doctor to discuss your tremor.

You can also ask your doctor for a referral to the OHSU Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Program. Our neurologists are specially trained to care for people with essential tremor, and can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Have you tried taking prescribed medications, such as propranolol or primidone, to control your tremor?

Before considering DBS, it’s important that you try a combination of medications at the highest dose, as prescribed by your doctor, to control your tremor.

Before considering DBS, you need to see if medications help. Talk to your doctor about getting a referral to the OHSU Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Program to see a neurologist who specializes in essential tremor.

Do you have unpleasant side effects (drowsiness, low blood pressure or dizziness) from your tremor medications?

Or have the medications stopped working to control your tremor?

You might be a candidate for DBS if you’ve tried a variety of medications at different doses and find that:

  • The side effects are unpleasant.
  • Or the medications no longer control your tremor.

If your medications control your tremor, then you should keep taking them. If you develop side effects or the medications stop controlling your tremor, you might be a candidate for DBS.

Is your tremor causing problems with daily activities, such as eating, drinking or getting dressed?

DBS can help control tremors so people can care for themselves and do activities they enjoy. You might be a candidate for DBS if:

  • Medications no longer control your tremor or cause unpleasant side effects.
  • Your tremor affects your quality of life.

If your tremor doesn’t interfere with your daily life, then you might not be a good candidate for DBS. DBS best helps people with tremors that make daily activities difficult.


If you answered yes to all of the questions above, you might be a good candidate for asleep deep brain stimulation at OHSU.

Please download and print this form and bring it to your doctor’s office for discussion. If you would like to be evaluated for DBS, you will need a referral to OHSU from your doctor.

Download form

After we receive your referral, we will contact you to schedule an evaluation. These appointments typically take place over 1-2 days. They include:

  • Confirming your essential tremor diagnosis
  • Possible evaluation of your speech and brain function
  • Making sure you are healthy enough for surgery

Many patients who live outside Oregon come to OHSU for asleep DBS. If you have to travel a long way to Portland, we’ll help make this as easy as possible.

Questions? Please call us at 503-494-4314.