Tics may involve repeated, uncontrolled spasm-like muscle movements, such as:
Repeated throat clearing or grunting may also be present.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will usually diagnose a tic during a physical examination. No special tests are needed. In rare cases, an EEG may be done to look for seizures, which can be the source of tics.
Short-lived childhood tics are not treated. Calling the child's attention to a tic may make it worse or cause it to continue. A non-stressful environment can make tics occur less often, and help them go away more quickly. Stress reduction programs may also be helpful.
If tics severely affect a person's life, medicines may help control them.
Simple childhood tics should go away on their own over a period of months. Chronic tics may continue for a longer period of time.
In most cases, there are no complications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if tics:
Affect many muscle groups
Many cases cannot be prevented. Reducing stress may be helpful. Sometimes counseling can help your child learn how to cope with stress.
Franklin SA, Walther MR, Woods DW. Behavioral interventions for tic disorders. Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2010;33:641-655.
Jankovic J, Lang AE. Movement disorders. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 21.
Ryan CA, Gosselin GJ, DeMaso DR. Habit and tic disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al. eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 22.
Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.