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What are tic disorders?

Tics are characterized as recurrent sudden, brief, involuntary movements. They can sometimes be temporarily consciously suppressed, though this can create an uncomfortable feeling which is relieved when the tic reoccurs. Tics are generally harmless, unless they begin to interfere with the functioning or perceived ability to function in everyday life.

Related conditions

Tics may be confused with seizures, since 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.

How common is it?

Tics are much more common in children than adults, with approximately 25 percent of children experiencing tics, and there’s a higher prevalence in boys than girls.


  • Motor tics
    • Simple motor tics such as eye blinking, nose twitching, head jerking or shoulder shrugging
    • Complex motor tics such as a series of alternate leg kicks or the repetitive action of reaching out and touching something
  • Vocal tics involve urges to hum, clear the throat, or to yell a word or phrase

Types of treatment

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 helpful in improving symptoms.

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