A tic is a sudden, repetitive, nonrhythmic motor movement or vocalization involving discrete muscle groups. Tics can be invisible to the observer, such as abdominal tensing or toe crunching. Common motor and phonic tics are, respectively, eye blinking and throat clearing. Motor tics can be classified as either simple or complex. Simple motor tics may include movements such as eye-blinking, nose-twitching, head-jerking, or shoulder-shrugging. Complex motor tics consist of a series of movements performed in the same order. For instance, a person might reach out and touch something repeatedly or kick out with one leg and then the other.
Tics are classified as simple or complex. Simple tics are sudden, brief and repetitive movements in which a limited number of muscle groups are involved. Some of the most common simple tics include blinking and other unusual visual gestures, facial grimaces, shrugging shoulders and shaking the head or shoulders. Simple vocalizations may include repeatedly clearing the throat, sniffing or grunting. Complex tics are specific movement patterns that encompass several muscle groups. Complex motor tics may include facial grimaces combined with twisting of the head and shrugging of the shoulders. Other complex motor tics may seem deliberate, including sniffing or touching objects, jumping, jumping, bending or twisting or bending the body. Simple vocal tics may include throat clearing, sniffing, grunting or barking. Even more complex vocal tics include the issuing of words or phrases. Perhaps the most dramatic and most disabling tics include self-mutilating motor movements, such as hitting the face or tics that include coprolalia (saying obscenities) or echolalia (repeating words or phrases from other people). Some tics are preceded by an uncontrollable impulse or sensation in the affected muscle group, which is called a premonitory impulse. Some people with Tourette syndrome describe their need to complete a tic in a certain way or a certain number of times in order to relieve the need or decrease the sensation.
The tics often get worse when the person is excited or suffering from anxiety and are attenuated during the activities of calm or requiring concentration. Some physical experiences can cause tics or increase them. For example, wearing clothing that tightens the neck can cause tics in the neck or listening to another person sniffing or clearing the throat can lead to the affected person making similar sounds. The tics do not disappear during sleep but generally decrease markedly.
What is Tourette Syndrome?
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, and involuntary movements and the emission of vocal sounds called tics. The disorder is named after Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French pioneer neurologist who in 1885 diagnosed the disease in an 86-year-old French noblewoman.
The first symptoms of Tourette syndrome are observed almost always from childhood, usually starting between 7 and 10 years of age. Tourette syndrome affects people of all ethnic groups, although males are affected three to four times as often as women. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans suffer from the most severe form of Tourette’s syndrome while one out of every 100 people has milder and less complex symptoms, such as chronic motor or vocal tics or transient tics of childhood. Although Tourette syndrome can manifest as a chronic condition with symptoms that persist throughout life, most people with the disease have the most severe symptoms during the first years of adolescence and improve as they move towards the later phase of adolescence and later in maturity. They describe their need to complete a tic in a certain way or a certain.