American Family Children's Hospital

Tourette's Syndrome

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Movement Disorders Providers


Health Information

Tourette's Syndrome


Our Program

UW Health Neurosurgery

UW Health's Movement Disorders Program, based at University Hospital, treats patients with Tourette's Syndrome.
What is Tourette's Syndrome?
Tourette's Syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system that causes a person to make repeated and uncontrolled movements and/or sounds called tics.

What causes Tourette's Syndrome?
While the exact cause is not known, the syndrome may be linked to problems in the brain and certain substances (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine) that help nerves communicate.

Most people first see the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome during childhood between the ages of seven and 10. The most common first symptom is a facial tic. Other tics that may follow include:
  • Arm thrusting
  • Eye blinking
  • Head bobbing
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Repetitive grunting, sniffing, throat clearing
  • Uncontrolled speech production/vocalizations
Tics may occur many times a day, but they tend to improve or get worse at different times. The tics may change with time.


If the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome are minor, they are usually not treated. This may be because the side effects of the medication may be worse than the symptoms of the syndrome.

Doctors have also been known to prescribe antipsychotics. These medicines can be used to control or eliminate tics, but their use is carefully monitored due to potential side effects of movement disorders and cognitive dulling.
Internet Resources
Tourette Syndrome Association