What is deep brain stimulation (DBS)?

When medication isn’t enough

If your tremor makes everyday life a challenge and medications aren’t offering the relief you need, DBS may help. Symptom control may help you continue to do what’s important to you, like taking care of family, continuing to work, or participating in activities you love.

How DBS works

DBS therapy uses a small, pacemaker-like device, placed under the skin of the chest, to send electrical signals through a very thin wire (lead) to an area in the brain that controls movement. To give you relief, these signals block some of the brain messages that cause the movement symptoms of essential tremor.


Medtronic DBS is FDA-approved to treat one upper extremity, which means one arm and hand. DBS may help symptoms of essential tremor that happen with or without trying to move.

DBS therapy is not for everyone, so it's important to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks.

Benefits of DBS for essential tremor

It may reduce tremor.

Studies show Medtronic DBS reduces tremor in one upper extremity, which typically includes one arm and one hand,1 and improves the ability to do everyday activities with less tremor and less disability (as reported by the patients).1

It doesn’t wear off while you sleep.

DBS delivers therapy 24 hours a day. It’s already working the moment you wake up.

It’s personalized for you.

Your doctor programs your DBS system to provide the best symptom control for you. As your symptoms change over time, the programming can be changed.

It keeps your future options open.

Unlike some surgeries for essential tremor, deep brain stimulation is reversible. The system can be turned off or removed, in most cases, and won’t limit your future treatment options.

You can get MRIs anywhere in the body.

We know it’s important that you have safe* access to MRI if you need this important test to diagnose a medical condition or injury. We offer the first full-body MR Conditional DBS systems, which means it is safe to have scans anywhere on the body with some Medtronic DBS devices under certain conditions.

It has a proven legacy.

Deep brain stimulation development2 started in 1987 and Medtronic has been the leader in the field ever since. Medtronic DBS therapy for tremor control was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997.

Safety information and risks

Placing the DBS system requires brain surgery. Like every surgical procedure, there are risks with deep brain stimulation therapy that could have serious and even fatal complications including coma, bleeding inside the brain, stroke, seizures, and infection. Once implanted, the system may become infected, parts may wear through your skin, and the lead and/or extension connector may move. Medtronic DBS therapy could stop suddenly because of mechanical or electrical problems. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause symptoms to return or worsen. Medtronic DBS therapy may cause new or worsening neurological symptoms, including motor and speech, and psychiatric disorders. 

In patients receiving Medtronic DBS therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide have been reported.

For complete safety information about Medtronic DBS therapy, please consult your doctor, call Medtronic at 800-328-0810, or read important safety information

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.


Medtronic DBS systems are MR Conditional which means they are safe for MRI scans only under certain conditions. If the conditions are not met, the MRI could cause tissue heating especially at the implanted lead(s) in the brain which may result in serious and permanent injury or death. Before having an MRI, always talk with the doctor who manages your DBS therapy to determine your eligibility and discuss potential benefits and risks of MRI. For further information, please call Medtronic at 800-328-0810.


Medtronic DBS therapy for Parkinson's disease and essential tremor clinical summary, 2015.


Miocinovic S, Somayajula S, Chitnis S, Vitek JL. History, applications, and mechanisms of deep brain stimulation. JAMA Neurol. 2013;70(2):163–171.