Annoying tics may be controlled with behavior training
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 3:44 AM
Dear Doctor K: My son jerks his neck constantly. Why does he have this tic? Is it dangerous? What can we do about it?
Dear Reader: Tics are upsetting - both to the person who has them and to the people who see them. We like to feel in control of our world. A sudden, uncontrollable, rapid repetitive movement (called a motor tic) says we're not in control.
Neck jerking is a common tic. Others include sudden, uncontrollable sounds or vocalizations, eye blinking, sniffing and throat clearing.
Tics are thought to be inherited neurological disorders that affect the body's motor system. They also can be caused by head injury or certain drugs, such as stimulants. Many kids with tics lose them by the time they are young adults. Hopefully, that will be true of your son.
People with tic disorders describe an urge building up inside them before the tic appears, followed by a feeling of relief after the tic is over. After making an effort to suppress a tic, the person usually has a burst of tics to relieve a buildup of the inner sensation.
When motor and vocal tics are present and last for more than one year, the disorder is named Tourette's syndrome. Fatigue, anxiety and stress often make symptoms worse.
If a stimulant medication is causing your son's tic, it might be worth stopping it, or substituting another stimulant drug in its place. Mild tics do not require treatment unless they interfere with your child's life.
If your son is disturbed by his tics, psychological counseling and behavior training can be effective. For example, a child may be taught to recognize that a tic is beginning and perform another movement that is incompatible with the tic.
Some people have severe tics that cause them to hurt themselves. Severe tics can be treated with medications that affect certain chemical messengers in the nervous system. A number of other medications, including injections of botulinum toxin (Botox and others), also may be effective.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106