Tic Disorders

Tics are characterized as recurrent sudden, brief, involuntary movements.Tthey can be sometimes be temporarily consciously suppressed, though this can create an uncomfortable feeling which is relieved when the tic reoccurs. Motor tics may be either simple, such as eye-blinking, nose-twitching, head-jerking, or shoulder-shrugging, or complex movements such as a series of alternate leg kicks, or the repetitive action of reaching out and touching of something. Vocal tics involve urges to hum, clear the throat, or to yell a word or phrase.

Tics are generally harmless, unless they begin to interfere with the functioning or perceived ability to function in everyday life. They are much more common in children than adults, with approximately 25% of children experiencing tics, and a higher prevalence in boys than girls. Though the cause of tics has yet to be determined, tic disorders can frequently be managed with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, particularly better sleep and nutrition.  Medications are sometimes indicated, and may be helpful to improve symptoms.

Tics may be confused with seizures, although jerks can sometimes also be seen as a symptom of a seizure. Evaluation by a physician and further testing may be necessary to clarify the nature of the symptoms.

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The Northwell Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs on Long Island for the evaluation, diagnosis and medical and surgical treatments of epilepsy.

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