How are tics classified in Tourette syndrome (TS) and other tic disorders?

Updated: May 30, 2019
  • Author: William C Robertson, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen L Nelson, Jr, MD, PhD, FAACPDM, FAAN, FAAP  more...
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Described below are the classification of tics, their general features, and the signs and symptoms of specific tics (sensory tics, dystonic tics, and coprolalia) and of related conditions such as OCD and ADHD.

Classification of tics

Tics are traditionally (if arbitrarily) classified by their distribution and complexity. Tics most often occur in the face, neck, pharynx, shoulders, and midline torso but can affect nearly any body part (see the image below).

Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders. Graphic Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders. Graphic shows the relative likelihood of lifetime sensory tics in a given region, as based on self-report of patients with Tourette syndrome. Overt tics are distributed similarly.

Albin has pointed out that stimulation of the ventral basal ganglia can reproduce some socially meaningful complex gestures (eg, stereotyped fear or pleasure displays in rodents), and that socially meaningful gestures predominantly involve these same body regions. [141] However, some tics do not readily fit traditional classifications.

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