Tourette Syndrome Management in Paterson, NJ
Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition and often the butt of jokes in popular culture. Tourette syndrome is characterized by impulsive, involuntary physical and vocal tics like twitching and vocal outbursts, even swears. This condition can greatly impact the quality of life of those who suffer from the condition.
What is Tourette Syndrome?
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder affecting the frontal lobes, cortices and basal ganglia areas of the brain (and possibly specific dopamine receptors). The end results are compulsions to perform movements and make various sounds, called tics. There are both simple and complex tics (motor and vocal).
- Simple motor tics: With simple motor tics, only a small amount of muscles are required to perform the action-like repetitive eye blinking, shoulder movements, head turning. The tic is isolated to one muscle group.
- Simple vocal tics: These tics usually present in the form of various sounds like grunts, barks, sniffing, humming and clearing of the throat. Simple vocal tics may often appear normal or intentional.
- Complex motor tics: Involving far more muscle groups and/or brain function than simple tics, they-in many cases-appear useful or intentional. Jumping, touching objects, combinations of simple tics like shoulder movement with several eye blinks are examples of complex motor tics. Complex motor tics may also be self-injurious, punching yourself in the face, head or abdominal region are also examples of complex tics.
- Complex vocal tics: Usually words. Echolalia (the repetition of heard words) is a frequent occurrence in those with TS. Perhaps most characteristic of Tourette syndrome is coprolalia, uncontrolled swearing. However, only a small percentage of those with TS have coprolalia. Despite this low occurrence, coprolalia has become a defining characteristic of Tourette syndrome.
The urge to perform a tic (premonitory urge) is a large part of Tourette syndrome. Often worse during times of anxiety or stress, this urge is one of the driving motivations behind Tourette syndrome. The urge creates an uncomfortable sensation, only relieved once the tic, vocal and/or motor is performed.
Progression of Tourette Syndrome
Typically those with TS experience their first symptoms around age six and their worst symptoms before their mid-teens, with their late-teens and early twenties having fewer “outbreaks” of tics. For an unlucky few, however, Tourette syndrome can last into adulthood at full strength or even increasing in intensity.
Tics can wax and wane in quantity. Sleep does not stop tics, but rather reduces the amount of tics produced. Some sufferers of TS can manage tics by suppressing their urge though some say this is a temporary stopgap as the urge increases until relieved.
There is a high degree of comorbidity (co-occurrence) between Tourette syndrome and other disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) , attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADD/ADHD) , sleep issues like insomnia , anxiety , learning disabilities, and so on.
Tourette Syndrome Treatment
Therapy based behavioral treatments have proven very effective in lessening the impact of Tourette syndrome. Cognitive behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT) recommend that those with TS. The goal with CBIT is to voluntarily move the specific area when presented with an urge. Moving by choice has been shown to reduce the occurrence of subsequent tics and the severity of those tics as well.
Pharmacological treatment options are available too. Alpha-adrenergic agonists are often the first course of treatment when medication is involved. If these fail, neuroleptics are used. These are medications designed to treat psychotic (and non-psychotic) disorders. While no medication can completely eradicate tics, neuroleptics come close. Though effective, neuroleptics carry the potentiality of adverse reactions and side effects, including tremors, sedation, weight gain , and reduction in “mental sharpness.” Suddenly stopping neuroleptics can also exacerbate tic formation and even bring about a condition known as tardive dyskinesia (a movement disorder from the prolonged use of neuroleptics).
If you or a loved one has Tourette syndrome, there is hope, treatment options exist. Don’t let TS rule your life, get help today.
Request more information about Tourette’s today. Call (201) 806-6099 or contact Dr. M.T. Shahab online.
Medwell Orthopedics & Functional Medicine for Men & Women
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Midland Park, NJ 07432
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