Habit Spasm, Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome
What Are Tics?
Tics present a neurologic condition characterized by involuntary movements that appear suddenly and intermittently.
Repetition of nonsense actions (stereotypy) and irresistibility are the main characteristics of these movements.
Tics often develop in childhood, but they also can appear in adulthood. The movements may be simple, resembling shock-like contractions of muscles or muscle groups (myoclonic jerks).
More often, tics consist of complex movements characterized by head-shaking, eye-blinking, sniffing, arm-waving, touching parts of the body, or making obscene gestures. Besides motor tics, vocal tics may also be present such as barking, throat-clearing, squealing, repetition of one's own sounds or the sounds of others, and explosive, involuntary cursing.
Multiplicity of tics and the combination of motor and vocal tics with compulsive and aggressive behavior is characteristic of Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome.
How is it diagnosed?
History: The individual may complain of involuntary movements or vocalization, and feeling compelled to do so in order to relieve perceived tension.
These behaviors can be voluntarily suppressed for brief intervals.
Physical exam shows the presence of motor or vocal tics.
Tests: Psychologic tests, intelligence tests, EEG, CT scan, or MRI are sometimes performed to exclude other disorders.
Treatment of Tourette syndrome
When tics are mild and not socially disabling, no treatment is required. When severe, tics can be addressed with medication. Relief of nervous tension by sedative or tranquilizing drugs and psychotherapy may be helpful.
Antidyskinetics, dopamine blockers.
Geodon (Ziprasidone), Klonopin (Clonazepam)
What might complicate it?
Stressful situations can aggravate tics. Also, the presence of an underlying disease such as a tumor may complicate this disorder.
The course of this disorder is unpredictable; relapses and remissions are common. Tics may be temporary or permanent.
Retardation, autism, schizophrenia, drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, tic douloureux, and essential myoclonus are other possibilities.
Neurologist and psychiatrist.
Last updated 18 December 2011