Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome

What is Tourette’s syndrome?

Tourette’s syndrome is a condition that causes people to make involuntary sounds and movements, known as tics. It usually starts during childhood, but can appear at any age. Tics and other symptoms usually improve with age and can go away completely.


What are the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome?

The main symptom of Tourette’s is tics, usually appearing between the ages of two and fourteen, with six years old being the average. Tics can be a combination of physical and vocal tics. Physical tics might include:

  • Blinking
  • Eye rolling
  • Grimacing
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Head or limbs jerking
  • Jumping
  • Twirling
  • Touching objects/other people

Vocal tics can include:

  • Grunting
  • Clearing the throat 
  • Whistling
  • Coughing
  • Clicking the tongue
  • Animal sounds
  • Saying random words and phrases (often going in phases)
  • Repeating a sound, word, or phrase
  • Swearing (rare, only affecting about one in ten people with Tourette’s)

Tics are not usually harmful, but physcial tics can be painful, such as jerking the head sharply or jerking a limb and hitting something nearby. Tics are also often worse on some days as opposed to others and can be exacerbated by stress, anxiety, or tiredness.

Before tics come on, a person may also experience what is known as premonitory sensations. These have been likened to the feeling people get before they need to itch or sneeze. The sensations are only relieved once the tic has been completed. Premonitory sensations might feel like:

  • A burning sensation in the eyes before blinking
  • A dry or sore throat before grunting or coughing
  • An itchy joint or muscle before jerking or moving

A secondary symptom of Tourette’s can also be fatigue, as controlling tics can be exhausting. A person with Tourette’s may experience a rapid bout of tics after a period of trying to control them. For example, a child coming home from school or an adult coming out of a meeting. Controlling tics often gets easier with time.

People with Tourette’s syndrome may also be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)m or learning difficulties.


What causes Tourette's syndrome?

The causes of Tourette’s are unknown, but it’s thought to be connected to the part of the brain that regulates body movements. For some reason, boys are more likely to be affected than girls.


What treatment options are available for Tourette's syndrome?

There’s no cure for Tourette’s and most people with tics don’t necessarily need treatment for them. However, some people seek treatment in order to help them control their tics. 

Behavioural therapy can be useful for some people with Tourette’s and should be provided by a trained psychologist or therapist. Habit reversal training has been known to help reduce tics by identifying the trigger and finding an alternative way of relieving the urge to tic. 

Exposure with response prevention (ERP) is another form of behavioural therapy that has also been used to train people with Tourette’s to better control their urges to tic. The therapy involves developing techniques to recreate the urge to tic and then training the person to tolerate the feeling and let it pass.

Some medicines have been used to treat Tourette’s, but only on prescription and in extreme cases when the tics are impacting their daily lives to a severe degree.


How can medical cannabis help with Tourette's syndrome?

Research into the extent of how far medical cannabis can help to reduce tics and alleviate the symptoms of Tourette’s is still ongoing. However, a study from 2013 showed that THC was successful in treating tics in adults where initial, traditional treatment options failed.

To book a private consultation and discuss how medical cannabis can alleviate your Tourette’s symptoms, contact The Medical Cannabis Clinics. Appointments start from only £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to guide you through your treatment options.

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