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Transient tic disorder

Transient tic disorder is a temporary condition in which a person makes one or many brief, repeated, difficult to control movements or noises (tics).

Alternative Names

Tic - transient tic disorder

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Transient tic disorder is common in children.

The cause of transient tic disorder can be physical or mental (psychological). It may be a mild form of Tourette syndrome .

Symptoms

The child may have facial tics or tics involving movement of the arms, legs, or other areas.

Tics may involve:

  • Movements that occur again and again and do not have a rhythm
  • An overwhelming urge to make the movement
  • Brief and jerky movements that include the following:
    • Blinking
    • Clenching the fists
    • Curling the toes
    • Flaring the nostrils
    • Grimacing
    • Jerking the arms
    • Kicking
    • Opening the mouth
    • Raising the eyebrows
    • Shrugging the shoulders
    • Sticking out the tongue

The tics often look like nervous behavior. Tics appear to get worse with stress and do not occur during sleep.

Sounds may also occur, such as:

  • Clicking
  • Grunting
  • Hissing
  • Moaning
  • Sniffing
  • Snorting
  • Squealing
  • Throat clearing

Signs and tests

The health care provider should consider physical causes of transient tic disorder before making a diagnosis.

In order to be diagnosed with transient tic disorder, the child must have had tics almost every day for at least 4 weeks, but less than a year.

Other disorders such as anxiety, attention deficit disorder, myoclonus, obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy, and focal dystonia, may need to be ruled out.

Treatment

Health care providers recommend that family members do NOT call attention to the tics at first, because unwanted attention may make the tics worse. If tics are severe enough to cause problems in school or work, behavioral techniques and medications may help.

Expectations (prognosis)

Simple childhood tics usually disappear over a period of months.

Complications

There are usually no complications. A chronic motor or vocal tic disorder can develop.

Calling your health care provider

Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about a transient tic disorder, especially if it continues or disrupts your child's life. If you are not sure whether the movements are a tic or a seizure , call your health care provider right away.

References

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.

Updated: 2/27/2013

Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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