Facial ticsTic - facial; Mimic spasm
A facial tic is a repeated spasm, often involving the eyes and muscles of the face.
Tics most often occur in children, but may last into adulthood. Tics occur 3 to 4 times as often in boys as girls. Tics may affect as many as one quarter of all children at some time.
The cause of tics is unknown, but stress appears to make tics worse.
Short-lived tics (transient tic disorder) are common in childhood.
Transient tic disorder
Transient tic disorder is a condition in which a person makes 1 or many brief, repeated, movements or noises (tics). These movements or noises are i...
A chronic motor tic disorder also exists. It may last for years. This form is very rare compared to the common short-lived childhood tic. Tourette syndrome is a separate condition in which tics are a major symptom.
Chronic motor tic disorder
Chronic motor tic disorder is a condition that involves quick, uncontrollable movements or vocal outbursts (but not both).
Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes a person to make repeated, quick movements or sounds that they cannot control.
Tics may involve repeated, uncontrolled spasm-like muscle movements, such as:
- Eye blinking
- Mouth twitching
- Nose wrinkling
Repeated throat clearing or grunting may also be present.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will usually diagnose a tic during a physical examination. No special tests are needed. In rare cases, an EEG may be done to look for seizures, which can be the source of tics.
An electroencephalogram is a test to measure the electrical activity of the brain.
A seizure is the physical findings or changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The term "seizure...
Short-lived childhood tics are not treated. Calling the child's attention to a tic may make it worse or cause it to continue. A non-stressful environment can make tics occur less often, and help them go away more quickly. Stress reduction programs may also be helpful.
If tics severely affect a person's life, medicines may help control them.
Simple childhood tics should go away on their own over a period of months. Chronic tics may continue for a longer period of time.
Chronic refers to something that continues over an extended period of time. A chronic condition is usually long-lasting and does not easily or quick...
In most cases, there are no complications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your provider if tics:
- Affect many muscle groups
- Are persistent
- Are severe
Many cases cannot be prevented. Reducing stress may be helpful. Sometimes counseling can help your child learn how to cope with stress.
Ryan CA, Trieu ML, DeMaso DR, Walter HR. Motor disorders and habits. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 139.
Singer HS. Tics and Tourette's syndrome. In: Swaiman K, Ashwal S, Ferriero DM, Ferriero D, eds. Swaiman's Pediatric Neurology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2012:chap 70.
Review Date: 2/27/2016
Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.