Tic: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 4/27/2017

A tic is a repetitive and spasmodic contraction of the muscles, usually of the face. It appears as an uncontrollable movement of the body and may be referred to as a twitch, spasm, motor tic, or jerk. Examples may include blinking the eyes, grimaces, grunts, groans, tongue clicking, throat clearing, or twitching the nose. Tics can also occur outside the facial muscles in the arms or legs, but this is less common. In contrast to motor tics described above, vocal tics are repeated sounds or words that occur without intention. Tics are more common in children than adults, and boys are more commonly affected than girls. Tics can be suppressed if a person concentrates on suppressing them, but this becomes increasingly difficult with time. Tics are a characteristic symptom of Tourette syndrome and tic disorders, but they may also occur due to other medical conditions.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/27/2017

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