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Transient tic disorder

Transient tic disorder is a temporary condition in which a person makes one or many brief, repeated, movements or noises (tics). These movements or noises are involuntary (not on purpose).

Alternative Names

Tic - transient tic disorder

Causes

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, for example, blinking, clenching the fists, jerking the arms, kicking, raising the eyebrows, sticking out the tongue. 

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

Sounds may also occur, such as:

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

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will 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 , uncontrollable movement (myoclonus ), obsessive-compulsive disorder , and epilepsy may need to be ruled out.

Treatment

Doctors recommend that family members do not call attention to the tics at first. This is because unwanted attention may make the tics worse. If the tics are severe enough to cause problems at school or work, behavioral techniques and medications may help.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Simple childhood tics usually disappear over a period of months.

Possible Complications

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

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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, eds. 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: 2/20/2014

Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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