What Causes Simple Motor Tics?

Medically Reviewed on 1/6/2023
Simple Motor Tics
Simple motor tics include involuntary body movements such as blinking or shrugging your shoulders.

Some people experience involuntary spasm-like movements of muscles, which are called tics or twitches. The exact cause of tics is unknown. Studies report that genetic mutations in specific genes and changes in brain chemistry (chemical changes in the brain) may cause tics.

Simple motor tics involve only a few body parts. Examples of simple motor tics include squinting of eyes and sniffing.

What are the risk factors for tics?

In many cases, tic disorders are temporary and harmless and can be managed through treatment and lifestyle changes. Tics usually start during childhood, and the symptoms improve during adulthood. Tics may start in teenage or early adulthood and remain a lifelong condition.

Some of the other risk factors for tics include:

Certain tics disorders are found three to four times more in men than in women. Having a family history of Tourette syndrome or other tic disorders may increase your risk of the illness.

What are the signs and symptoms of tics?

Symptoms may vary from person to person, usually developing at 5 to 10 years of age. Symptoms of tics may worsen with factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and caffeine.

The types of tics and their signs and symptoms include:

  • Motor tics: Tics that include body movements. Examples include blinking, shrugging the shoulders, and jerking the arm.
  • Vocal tics: These are sounds a person makes using their voice. Examples include humming, clearing throat, or yelling.
  • Simple tics: Involve very few body parts. Examples of simple motor tics include squinting of eyes, tongue movements (tongue sticking out), and sniffing.
  • Complex tics: Involve several body parts with a specific pattern. Examples include bobbing the head while jerking the arm and jumping up.

What are the complications associated with tic disorders?

Complications associated with tic disorders include:


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How do you diagnose tic disorders?

There is no single test for diagnosing tic disorders. The healthcare provider will ask for the symptoms to diagnose the disorder. Symptoms of tics differ from person to person.

Tics typically improve or disappear over time. They may only last a few months at a time, but they frequently come and go over several years.

Diagnosing tic disorders involves identifying the following:

  • Type of tics
  • Duration of tics
  • Severity of tics
  • If the tics are motor, vocal, or both

How do you treat tics?

The treatment of tic disorders depends on the severity of the tics. In most cases, the tics are resolved on their own without any treatment.

In other cases, behavioral therapy or medications, or both may help treat tics. Behavior therapy helps treat tic symptoms and reduce their frequency. Behavioral therapy includes habit reversal therapy and cognitive therapy.

Additionally, medication is used to reduce the tic frequency and improve a person’s quality of life. These two treatment options do not completely treat the tic symptoms.

Medically Reviewed on 1/6/2023
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