Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition that causes tics. Tics are sudden and uncontrollable twitches, movements or sounds.
Tics often begin in early childhood and tend to get less severe by early adulthood; however, they can significantly affect quality of life at all ages.
Tourette Syndrome Tics
- Motor tics: Body movements in one muscle group (e.g., eye blinking, shoulder shrugging)
- Complex motor tics: Movements that involve multiple muscle groups (e.g., kicking, jumping)
- Vocal tics: Making noises (e.g., grunting, throat-clearing)
- Complex vocal tics: Outbursts of words or phrases (e.g., repeating words, swearing)
Early Signs of Tourette's in Children
Motor tics begin between ages 3 and 8. Talk to your pediatrician if your child has any of these first signs of Tourette syndrome, especially if they are repetitive, frequent and rapid:
- Nose twitching
- Eye blinking
- Shoulder shrugging
If your pediatrician suspects Tourette's, they will refer you to a neurologist who treats Tourette syndrome in children for diagnosis.
Tourette Syndrome Treatment at Rush
If you or your child are diagnosed with Tourette's, movement disorder experts at Rush will create an individualized treatment plan that may include one or more of the following:
- Medications: Medications can help you manage tics and emotional and behavioral conditions associated with Tourette syndrome, such as attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT): CBIT is behavioral therapy that helps you or your child become more sensitive to your urge. It then helps you learn to substitute a more acceptable response to the urge.
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS): DBS may be an option if you have motor and/or vocal tics that significantly affect your quality of life, even after you have used other treatment options.
- Botulinum toxin injection: Commonly known as Botox, botulinum toxin injections can be used to target a specific area of the body, such as a single blinking tic.
- Family counseling: Counseling can help you or your child and your family cope with and manage behavioral problems associated with Tourette syndrome.
- Complementary and alternative therapies: Many of our patients try alternative therapies, including yoga, meditation and dietary changes. Our neurologists work with you to find a holistic treatment regimen that fits your goals and preferences.
Rush Excellence in Tourette Syndrome
- Center of Excellence: Our Rush University Medical Center location is a Tourette Association Center of Excellence. Centers of Excellence provide expert and coordinated care, along with research and a full range of treatment options for Tourette's. We are the only Center of Excellence in Illinois.
- Team-based, coordinated care: The Rush Tourette syndrome team in Chicago includes movement disorder neurologists, a psychiatrist and neuropsychologists. The team is all in one office so that patients and families come to one center for care. We also have a social worker who can work with you as needed to help you find resources in your community.
- Movement disorders in the western suburbs: In addition to our Center of Excellence in downtown Chicago for adults and children, Rush has adult movement disorder experts in Aurora, Oak Park and Oak Brook. Parents in the western suburbs can see a pediatric neurologist in Aurora who treats Tourette syndrome in children.
- Expertise in CBIT and other behavioral counseling: Our psychologists in Chicago have expertise in Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT), relaxation training, cognitive-behavioral therapy and hypnosis. If you need resources closer to home, our team can connect you to a network of community psychologists, psychiatrists and educational specialists.
- Extensive experience with DBS and botulinum toxin: Our team has extensive experience using botulinum toxin and deep brain stimulation to address movement disorders symptoms. This experience helps to better determine who would benefit from these therapies and who wouldn't. We offer multiple types of DBS, including asleep DBS and responsive DBS.
- Clinical trials and research: Our team continually tests new treatments for adults and children with Tourette syndrome and tic disorders through clinical trials. Our studies look at different aspects of Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders, and how environmental factors influence how tics present themselves.
- Nationally recognized expertise: Neurology and neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center are consistently recognized among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.