Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome is a condition that causes involuntary sounds and movements called tics. It usually develops during childhood but tics and other symptoms often improve after several years and may sometimes go away completely. People with Tourette’s Syndrome also often have with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or learning difficulties.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of Tourette’s Syndrome is tics – usually appearing in childhood. This can refer to a combination of physical and vocal tics.

Examples of physical tics may include:

·      Blinking

·      Eye rolling

·      Grimacing

·      Shoulder shrugging

·      Head or limbs jerking

·      Jumping or twirling

·      Touching objects/other people

Examples of vocal tics may include:

·      Grunting

·      Throat clearing

·      Whistling

·      Coughing

·      Tongue clicking

·      Animal sounds

·      Random words and phrases

·      Repeating a sound, word or phrase

·      Swearing (a rare tic that only affects around 1in 10 people)

Tics are not usually harmful to a person’s health; however, physical tics such as jerking of the head, can be painful. Tics may also be worse during periods of stress, Anxiety and Depression. Tourette’s Syndrome is often also associated with anxiety and depression.

Most people with Tourette’s Syndrome premonitory sensations before a tic which has been compared with the feeling you get before a sneeze or when you need to itch. These may include:

·      A burning feeling in the eyes before blinking

·      A dry or sore throat before grunting

·      An itchy joint or muscle before jerking

Cause and treatment

The cause of Tourette’s Syndrome is unknown; however, it is thought to be linked to a part of the brain that helps regulate body movements.

There is no cure for Tourette’s Syndrome, but some treatments may be recommended to help control tics. These can include:

·      Habit reversal therapy – a type of behavioural therapy which involves working out the feelings that trigger tics and identifies an alternative, less way of relieving the urge to tic.

·      Exposure with response prevention (ERP) – a typeof behavioural therapy that involves training to better control urges to tic.

·      Medicines – some people may find that medicines can help with tics, but this is usually only recommended if tics are more severe or are affecting daily activities as these medicines can have side effects and they aren’t always effective.

Medical Cannabis and Tourette's Syndrome

Research into how medical cannabis could be useful in alleviating the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome is still ongoing; however, there is some preliminary evidence that cannabinoid-based therapies may be beneficial. For example, one study from 2013 found that THC was useful in reducing tics and helping to alleviate other symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome in adults.

Our specialist physicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.