Which physical findings are characteristic of sensory tics 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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Sensory tics refer to repeated, unwanted, uncomfortable sensations, often in the absence of a verifiable stimulus. [147, 148] Common examples are "something in the throat," or a hard-to-describe local discomfort in the shoulders.

Sensory tics often precede motor or vocal tics but can occur independent of externally apparent tics. In the former case, they also are called premonitory sensations, and often the actual movement or vocalization is perceived as relieving the uncomfortable sensation, akin to "scratching the itch." Blinking after an uncomfortable sensation in the eye is one example. At other times, patients report a more generalized discomfort or restlessness, sometimes reminiscent of the subjective component of akathisia.

Some published self-descriptions of tics identify these sensory phenomena as the core symptoms of TS. [149] However, developmentally, children have motor tics several years (on average) before they first report premonitory sensations.

Not surprisingly, the distribution of sensory tics mimics that of motor and vocal tics.

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