Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.

The first symptoms of TS are almost always noticed in childhood.

Between 1 and 10 children per 1,000 have Tourette’s and as many as 10 per 1,000 people may have tic disorders.

Some of the more common tics include:

  • Eye blinking and other vision irregularities
  • Facial grimacing
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Head or shoulder jerking

Perhaps the most dramatic and disabling tics are those that result in self-harm such as:

  • Punching oneself in the face
  • Vocal tics
    • Coprolalia – uttering swear words
    • Echolalia – repeating the words or phrases of others

Many with TS experience additional neurobehavioral problems including:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Obsessive-compulsive symptoms
    • Intrusive thoughts/worries
    • Repetitive behaviors

Although TS can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst symptoms in their early teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood. As a result, some individuals may actually become symptom free or no longer need medication for tic suppression.

Because tic symptoms do not often cause impairment, the majority of people with TS require no medication for tic suppression. However, effective medications are available for those whose symptoms interfere with functioning. There is no one medication that is helpful to all people with TS, nor does any medication completely eliminate symptoms. Effective medications are also available to treat some of the associated neurobehavioral disorders that can occur in patients with TS.