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Alternative NamesTic - facial; Mimic spasm
Definition Return to top
A facial tic is a repeated spasm, often involving the eyes and muscles of the face.
Causes Return to top
Tics most often occur in children, but may last into adulthood in some cases. Tics occur three to four times as often in boys as girls. Tics may affect as many as one-fourth of all children at some time.
The cause of tics is unknown, but stress appears to make tics more severe.
Short-lived tics (transient tic disorder) are common in childhood.
Certain medications, such as methylphenidate (used to treat hyperactivity in children), were previously thought to cause tics in children already prone to the disorder. However, recent studies do not support this idea, and suggest that these medications can be used in children with tics who also have attention-deficit disorder (which often occurs in the same group of children).
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. Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is a separate condition in which tics are a major symptom.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
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 rule out seizures.
Treatment Return to top
Transient 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 reduce the frequency of tics, and help them go away more quickly.
If tics are disabling, medications such as risperdal (Risperidone) may help control them.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Simple childhood tics should go away on their own over a period of months. Chronic tics may continue for a longer period of time.
Possible Complications Return to top
In most cases, there are no complications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if tics:
Prevention Return to top
Many cases cannot be prevented. Reducing stress may be helpful. Sometimes counseling can help your child learn how to cope with stress.Update Date: 2/13/2008 Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Departments of Anatomy & Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.