Leg Shaking (Leg Tremors): Types, Causes, and How to Treat Naturally

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

leg tremors
Credit: iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

The uncontrollable movement of an extremity can be an alarming experience. Whether occurring at rest or during an activity, leg tremors should be taken seriously as these sensations are not always a normal spontaneous reaction.

In fact, the shaking may be a way for your internal system to expose a serious underlying condition to you. Why do my legs shake?

We may joke about consuming too much caffeine, but often leg tremors are linked to a condition of the central nervous system or a malfunctioning thyroid gland. We will look at leg shaking causes, the different types of tremors, and if these sensations can be treated with natural remedies.

Persistent leg shaking can occur to anyone at any age, with most cases arising in the middle aged and the elderly. This can be seen in one or both legs,  with the jerking motion varying from mild to quite severe and noticeable. While excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine can stimulate tremors, the body’s response to certain medications can also be a cause.

More serious causes are linked to health disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, where a leg tremor can occur in sitting or lying down positions. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) also presents a visible shaking of the lower extremities usually during rest or sleep, but is known to occur throughout the day in some cases. This syndrome may also be confused with a shaking leg condition, since both involve involuntary movement of the limbs. RLS typically offers more of a tingling sensation, but the legs can experience mini tremors while at rest.

You may also experience an orthostatic tremor in the legs, but these have no noticeable twinges or motions. These tremors are confirmed through diagnostic tests and dissipate when the patient sits or lies down. With all of the different types of leg tremors, it might be a challenge to identify which one you may be experiencing.

Types of Tremors

As mentioned, there are different forms of tremors that stimulate the leg shaking movement. Knowing the classifications may help to narrow down the underlying cause and answer your question, why do I shake my leg?

1. Cerebellar or Intention Tremors

A cerebellar or intention tremor refers to a shake when trying to make a movement with a goal in mind, such as walking or reaching for an object. This is seen with injury or damage to the portion of the brain that controls the actions of the muscles. This damage may be caused by health disorders such as multiple sclerosis, or be the result of an abrasion, excessive use of alcohol, substance withdrawal, or stroke. A cerebellar or intention tremor can affect all extremities, including the legs.

2. Orthostatic Tremors

A neurological effect, an orthostatic tremor is rare and was once known as shaky leg syndrome. The tremor is seen when standing from a sitting position, with involuntary contractions of the muscle. This can cause sufferers to be unstable on their feet.

3. Parkinsonian Tremors

A brain injury or damage can cause the onset of a Parkinsonian tremor. In addition to affecting those with Parkinson’s disease as the name implies, this type of tremor can also affect people with similar neurodegenerative disorders and infections. It may also affect those using illicit drugs. With stress as a major trigger, a Parkinsonian tremor is considered to be a “pill-rolling” motion, as it radiates from one side of the body to the other, including the legs. It is commonly the first sign of Parkinson’s disease.

4. Dystonic Tremors

A dystonic tremor stems from a neurological cause by forcing the muscles to contract in abnormal postures of the limbs. These swift, jerking shakes can be painful and usually disperse when the body is at rest.

5. Physiologic Tremors

Whether you have experienced a visible leg shake or not, it is almost certain that you have had a physiologic tremor at one point or another. This type of tremor cannot be seen, but happens internally with excessive use of caffeine; during a hangover; and with low blood sugar, fatigue, and stress.

6. Essential Tremors

The brain’s thalamus or cerebellum sections are commonly affected by an essential tremor. This type of tremor is present usually in the hands, but can also be observed in the shaking of the legs. A leg tremor can be triggered by fatigue or stress and, like the cerebellar tremor, affects the elderly and middle aged.

7. Psychogenic Tremors

Known as a functional tremor, a psychogenic tremor may be difficult to diagnose as its characteristics are similar to other tremors. They can be present with movement, at rest, or by switching positions. The most interesting fact concerning psychogenic tremors is that they will stop once the affected person is distracted and focus their attention to another place or thought.

8. Rubral Tremors

A rubral tremor is another rare episode. It sees the leg shake become violently uncontrollable, as it radiates throughout the body and causes it to twist and stiffen. These tremors usually occur after a stroke. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or prevention.

Leg Shaking (Leg Tremors) Causes

A few cases of uncontrollable leg shaking have no apparent cause or stimulation. As discussed within the different types, a tremor may be caused by damage to the brain affecting the actions of the muscles. Health conditions affecting the neurological system, such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or even a brain injury, can trigger the leg shaking. An overactive thyroid, malfunction of the liver, or mercury poisoning may be also to blame. Use of prescribed and illegal drugs can also cause tremors. These can include corticosteroids, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and amphetamines. Alcohol abuse and withdrawal treatment can also cause the symptom known as “the shakes.”

Treatment of Leg Shaking (Leg Tremors)

Leg tremors are often treated with medication that targets the jerking motion or the underlying cause, if one is found. For the unique psychogenic tremors, there may be a psychological issue that requires attention to prevent future episodes, such as psychological therapy or prescribed medication. On the other hand, very few cerebellar tremors react to medication. Physical therapy is often used alone or in conjunction with prescribed medication to control tremors or to adapt to untreatable shaking. Severe tremors may require surgical procedures.

The best treatment for some cases may be to avoid the triggers of the leg tremors such as stress, substance abuse, or lack of sleep. The leg shaking may be tamed or prevented with meditation practices, adequate rest, leg exercises, and stretching the affected muscles. We will look into these and other ways to address leg tremors with lifestyle changes and natural home remedies.

How to Treat Tremors Naturally

While the following home treatments may not completely stop the onset of leg shaking, they may help to alleviate the number or severity of the tremors.

1. Herbal Tea

With anxiety-driven tremors, drinking herbal teas may reduce the stress trigger. Chamomile tea, in particular, has been used for millennia in ancient medicine traditions for its mild sedative effects. These may result from apigenin, a flavonoid found in the herb that binds to certain receptors in the brain..

2. Herbal Oil Massage

Use herbal oils of lavender, chamomile, and tea tree for a relaxing massage of the legs. This may psychologically reduce stress while releasing tense muscles as it targets inflamed tissue.

3. Valerian

Use the widely reported calming effects of the herb valerian to induce rest and sleep time. It appears to slow down the central nervous system, which may help control the tremors. Add grounded valerian root to three ounces of water and drink daily.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

The powerful nutrients in apple cider vinegar may also help to stop tremors. The tonic contains the minerals phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium. All of which are necessary for proper functioning of the nervous system. Start your day by drinking a water and apple cider vinegar mixture.

5. Healthy Diet

Our muscles, tissues, nerves, and bones need sufficient vitamins and minerals to maintain good working order. To quiet tremors, consume vitamin B-enriched foods such as eggs, lentils, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Magnesium is a vital mineral, and can be found in fish, seeds, nuts, avocados, yogurt, and even pure dark chocolate.

6. Refined Sugar

As part of a healthy diet, it is recommended to avoid foods and beverages with refined sugars. This artificial product can stimulate leg tremors caused by an imbalance of insulin levels and high blood sugar counts.

7. Caffeine

By limiting or avoiding caffeine drinks and products such as coffee and soda pop, the severity of leg tremors may lessen.

8. Water

Just as we need nutrients, we need water. By drinking three liters of water each day, you may be able to stop tremors, as water can help reduce physical and emotional stress and stimulate the body to be active.

9. Tonic Water

Leg shaking or tremors that occur at nighttime may be prevented or alleviated by sipping tonic water. Having half a glass at bedtime may also calm the nerves.

10. Exercise

With an active body, regular exercise may be the best medicine to alleviate any leg shaking. Incorporate leg exercises into your daily routine. Walking is another helpful activity at the times you experience leg tremors.

11. Yoga

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight while reducing stress through the practice of yoga poses. Be sure to use meditation and proper breathing techniques to get the most benefits from this form of exercise.

12. Sleep

Our physical body requires as much rest as our mind, and a sleepless night may trigger night leg shakes. A quick remedy may be drinking warm milk at bedtime.

13. Warm Bath

Unwind tense muscles by relaxing in a warm bath. Leg shaking may be alleviated by adding Epsom salts to the water.

14. Over-the-Counter Drugs

Certain shelf remedies for colds, allergies, depression, and weight loss can stimulate leg tremors with their chemical components. Only use nonprescription medication on a physician’s advice.

15. Sexual Intercourse

Being intimate with your partner releases hormones to reduce stress and anxiety. Regular love making may prevent persistent leg shaking episodes.

16. Socks

At bedtime, wear comfortable socks to combat any coldness your body can encounter during the night. The old saying, “once your feet are cold, your entire body becomes cold” is a fact for many people, especially for those suffering with leg tremors. Keeping the body temperature warm will stimulate good blood circulation in the feet and may stop and keep tremors away.

17. Bad Habits

We know that, in addition to the common anxiety and stress triggers, there are habitual acts that can also stimulate tremors in the legs. Avoid using tobacco products, alcohol, and recreational drugs to prevent problems with the central nervous system.

Leg shaking can interfere in daily activities and keep you awake all night. These tremors may be caused by undue stress or an existing health condition or disease. There may not even be a diagnosable cause for the tremor.

Different types of leg tremors can be responsible for the severity and the frequency of the sensation. Treatments tend to target any underlying cause for the leg shaking and often involve medications. You may be able to stabilize or prevent the onset of a tremor by incorporating lifestyle changes and adhering to a healthy lifestyle. Home remedies consisting of herbs, warm baths, and massaging oils may also alleviate the discomfort of leg tremors.

Related Article:

What Causes Uncontrollable Shivering and Natural Treatments to Deal with It

“Shaking Of Legs or Leg Tremors: Classification, Types, Causes, Tests, Treatment”, ePain Assist; https://www.epainassist.com/muscles-and-tendons/shaking-of-the-leg-or-leg-tremors, last accessed July 25, 2017.
Ayles, A., “The 10 Most Common Types of Tremors (With Symptoms Of Each),” Active Beat, June 10, 2013; http://www.activebeat.com/your-health/the-10-most-common-types-of-tremors/?streamview=all, last accessed July 25, 2017.
Baptiste, D., “13 Home Remedies For Shaking Legs Habit,” Bold Sky, February 19, 2015; https://www.boldsky.com/health/disorders-cure/2015/thirteen-home-remedies-for-shaking-legs-habit-063681.html, last accessed July 25, 2017.
“Tremors,” Medicine Net; http://www.medicinenet.com/tremor/article.htm#what_is_tremor, last accessed July 25, 2017.
Khatoon, A., “10 Effective Home Remedies To Treat Shaking Hands and Legs,” Deveev, November 28, 2015; http://deveev.com/health/10-effective-home-remedies-to-treat-shaking-hands-and-legs/, last accessed July 25, 2017.
“Valerian,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-870-valerian.aspx?activeingredientid=870, last accessed July 25, 2017.
“Lavender,” University of Maryland Medical Center; http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender, last accessed July 25, 2017.
Srivastava J., et al., “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future,” Molecular Medicine Reports, Nov. 2010; 3(6):895-901; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/, last accessed July 25, 2017.
“Apple Cider Vinegar,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-816-apple%20cider%20vinegar.aspx?activeingredientid=816&activeingredientname=apple%20cider%20vinegar, last accessed July 25, 2017.