Motor and Vocal Tics
Tics are spasm-like contractions of muscles most commonly involving the face, mouth, eyes, head, neck or shoulder muscles. Tic movements often appear to be intentional but in fact are not under the control of the person making them. There are two kinds of tics, motor and vocal.
Motor tics can be simple or complex. Simple motor tics involve only one muscle group. They can be embarrassing or painful (such as jaw snapping). Simple motor tics include:
- Quick eye blinks or eye jerks
- Tongue movements, including sticking out the tongue
- Head twitches or head jerks
- Squatting and hopping
- Shoulder shrugs
- Facial grimacing
- Touching people or things
- Obscene gesturing or gyrating movements
Complex vocal tics may involve words, phrases and sentences. Patients with a complex motor tic may repeat their own words (palilalia) or other people's words (echolalia) and may use obscene words (coprolalia). These vocal tics may interrupt the flow of a normal conversation or occur at the beginning of a sentence, much like a stutter or a stammer.
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