Tourette syndrome (TS) is a chronic disorder of the nervous system. It is a type of tic disorder that includes both motor and vocal tics. These tics are rapid, involuntary movements or sounds that occur repeatedly.
Many people with TS also have one or more of the following problems:
Tics are the main symptoms of TS. To be TS, the tics must be involuntary and:
Both motor and vocal tics
Be present for more than 1 year
Start before age 18
Not absent at any time for more than 3 months
Not be due to a physiological cause like substances or a medical condition
Tics will usually happen daily, range from mild-to-severe, and change in type over time. They can occur suddenly and vary in the amount of time that they last. Tics may temporarily decrease with concentration or distraction. During times of stress and tension, they may occur more often.
Tics are divided into motor and vocal. The following are some common examples:
Simple—eye blinking, head jerking, arm or shoulder shrugging
Complex—jumping, smelling, touching things or other people, twirling around
NINDS Tourette syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Tourette-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet. Updated February 12, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 5/6/2014
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