Tourette Syndrome, Tics and OCD

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.  The first symptoms of TS are almost always noticed in childhood often include:

    • eye blinking and other vision irregularities
    • facial grimacing
    • shoulder shrugging
    • head or shoulder jerking
    • vocal tics including coprolalia (uttering swear words) or echolalia (repeating the words or phrases of others)

Many children with TS also experience symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms such as intrusive thoughts or worries and repetitive behaviors.  TS is a complicated disorder and successful biomedical treatment involves investigation of underlying weaknesses. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).  The relationship between OCD and TS is well documented.   Children with OCD experience a number of metabolic and physiological abnormalities that, when addressed, improve anxiety and decrease symptoms. 

Due to the complex nature of TS and OCD, it is important to individually evaluate children to identify problems.  Immune irregularities, digestive issues, viruses, yeast, bacterial overgrowth in the gut and nutrient deficiencies can all play a role.  TS and OCD are much like a tightly tied knots in the nervous system.  It takes time and effort to identify the most effective way to unravel these knots but when successful, children who undergo biomedical treatment can have their lives transformed.

One of the most interesting findings in recent research includes the link between group A streptococcal infections, tourette’s and obsessive compulsive disorder.  Studies identify that children with TS have elevated levels of antibodies to group A streptococcus as well as antibodies against a part of the brain called the basal ganglia. 

Increased incidence of anti-basal ganglia antibodies was found in OCD as well linking it to the hypothesis that streptococcal infections are an underlyling cause.  This new syndrome is being termed:  Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS).

It is clear that immune dysregulation plays a large role in the development of neurodevelopmental concerns.  Further research is needed but support and modulation of the immune system can result in dramatic shifts in quality of life for children with TS, tics and OCD.

Click here to learn more about biomedical treatment of TS and OCD