Tourette syndrome, also called Tourette’s disorder, is a type of tic disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations, called “tics.”
The cause of Tourette syndrome is unknown. Genetics play a role, and the condition tends to run in families.
Environmental, developmental, and other factors may also be causes.
What Are Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome?
Symptoms of Tourette syndrome include:
Motor tics, which are tics that involve sudden unusual movements, for example:
- Eye blinking
- Facial grimacing
- Jaw movements
- Shoulder shrugging
- Head jerking or bobbing
- Neck stretching
- Walking strangely
- Kicking, jumping, hopping, twirling, or moving the body in odd ways
- Arm jerking
- Making obscene gestures
- Vocal/phonic tics, which are tics that involve unusual sounds or words, or phrases that don't make sense or seem unusual, for example:
- Other noises
- Inappropriate words (swearing, ethnic slurs, or other socially unacceptable words or phrases)
- Repetition of words or phrases (including echoing what other people say)
Tourette syndrome is commonly accompanied by other neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions, such as:
How Is Tourette Syndrome Diagnosed?
There is no laboratory test used to diagnose Tourette syndrome and a physical examination usually will not reveal anything abnormal. Testing may be indicated to rule out other conditions.
Diagnostic criteria used to diagnose Tourette syndrome may include:
- At least 2 motor tics and at least 1 vocal (phonic) tic have occurred, not necessarily at the same time
- Tics may come and go in frequency but have been happening for more than 1 year
- Tics started to appear before the age of 18
- Tics are not caused by the use of a substance or other medical condition
What Is the Treatment for Tourette Syndrome?
If tics are mild, treatment for Tourette syndrome may not be needed. If tics start to interfere with a person’s life or cause pain or injury, treatment may be indicated.
Treatments for Tourette syndrome include:
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Pimozide (Orap)
- Aripiprazole (Abilify)
- Botulinum toxin (Botox)
- “Off-label” medications (not FDA approved for treatment of tics)
- Medications for co-occurring conditions
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
- Behavior modification
- Comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT)
- Habit reversal training
- Speech therapy
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