A facial tic is an uncontrollable, involuntary spasm of the facial muscles. The tic is unwelcome and occurs frequently enough to be bothersome to the individual who has it.
A person can keep in a tic for a short period of time, similar to how a person can hold in a sneeze, but doing so frequently causes the individual to become progressively uncomfortable.
Facial tics can be caused by a variety of conditions, but they rarely signify a serious medical condition.
Facial tics are more common in children than in adults, according to a study published in Pediatric Neurology, and males appear to be significantly more prone to them than girls. After a few months, most children’s facial tics disappear.
When to consult your doctor
Facial tics are frequently temporary and fade away on their own. If a person has a tic that lasts more than a year, they should contact a doctor.
Anyone who has severe, chronic tics that affect a variety of muscle groups should see their doctor for a correct diagnosis.
Although it is not always possible to prevent facial tics, many of them do not require treatment and will go away on their own.
For persistent tics, there are treatments that can help people manage the tic. Some people may benefit from learning stress relief techniques and consulting a therapist.
Involuntary muscular movements that occur anywhere on the face are known as facial tics. However, they normally occur in the same location each time and are frequent enough to annoy the individual. Tics that are severe can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life.
The following are examples of common facial tics:
- raising the eyebrows
- opening and closing the mouth
- mouth twitching
- rapid eye blinking or winking
- flaring the nostrils
- scrunching the nose
- clicking the tongue
- sucking the teeth
Some people may also have vocal tics, such as clearing their throat or grunting, in addition to muscle tics.
A person can temporarily repress a tic, but it will eventually emerge.
Types of tic disorders
Facial tics can be caused by a variety of conditions. The severity of the tic, as well as the existence of other symptoms, can assist a doctor figure out what’s wrong.
Transient tic disorder
Tics are only present for a short time. A regular facial or vocal tic may be caused by transient tic condition, however the tic usually lasts less than a year.
Tics are usually only present when a person is awake with transient tic disorder. Tics are uncommon when people are sleeping.
The majority of causes of tics in children are due to transient tic disorder. They normally go away on their own without any treatment.
Chronic motor tic disorder
Chronic motor tic disorder is a type of tic disorder that lasts longer. A person with chronic motor tic disorder must have had tics for more than a year, for periods of at least 3 months at a time, in order for a doctor to diagnose them.
Chronic motor tic disorder, unlike transitory tic condition, causes tics that can occur while sleeping.
Both toddlers and adults can develop chronic motor tic condition. Young children with persistent motor tic disorder may not require treatment since their symptoms are more tolerable or go away on their own.
Adults with the illness may require medication or other forms of treatment to keep their tics under control.
Tourette’s syndrome, often known as Tourette’s condition, is a persistent disorder that causes one or more motor or vocal tics.
Tourette’s syndrome affects the majority of people throughout their childhood, however it can also affect adults. Tics normally get less acute as a person gets older.
Both physical and verbal tics are present in people with Tourette’s syndrome. They may unintentionally create sounds or pronounce words.
Small motor tics, such as fast blinking or throat clearing, are common in people with Tourette’s syndrome. They may, however, have more complex motor tics, such as:
- saying inappropriate words
- making inappropriate gestures
- yelling out
- shrugging one or both shoulders
- shaking the head uncontrollably
- flapping the arms
Behavioral therapy can help people with Tourette’s syndrome manage their symptoms. People with any other underlying problems, on the other hand, may require medicine.
Treatment for facial tics varies according to the tic’s nature and intensity. Many tics, such as those caused by transitory tic condition, may fade away over time if not treated.
Tics that interfere with school or work performance may require treatment. Tics that endure a long time, such as those caused by Tourette’s syndrome, may require more intensive treatment.
Tics can be treated in a variety of ways, including:
Alpha-adrenergic agonists, neuroleptic medications, and dopamine blockers are some of the pharmaceuticals used to treat tics.
Doctors may recommend Botox injections in the case of persistent facial tics or twitches. Botox injections can temporarily block facial muscles, which may be enough to prevent tic recurrence.
Any underlying diseases causing the tic, such as Tourette’s syndrome or ADHD, can also be treated with medication.
Doctors may prescribe that a person meet with a psychotherapist on a regular basis to help them change or remove their tics.
Some people may benefit from behavioural modification and habit reversal strategies to assist them overcome their tics and improve their quality of life.
The person is usually taught to recognise when the tic is about to happen as part of the therapy. When a person is able to accomplish this, the therapist will encourage them to try to replace the tic with another behaviour.
This may assist a person replace a physical habit with one that is less distracting or does not interfere with daily functioning over time.
In severe cases of facial tics, such as those caused by Tourette’s syndrome, several surgical treatments may be helpful.
Deep brain stimulation is one surgical treatment option. Electrical currents may be able to reach specific parts of the brain via electrodes implanted in the brain, according to some experts, which could assist control brain waves and eliminate tics.
Deep brain stimulation may help ease symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, according to a recent study, but further research is needed to find the appropriate parts of the brain to stimulate.
Natural therapies for facial tics may also be recommended by doctors. Because stress is thought to play a role in the development and maintenance of tics, natural treatments will focus on lowering stress in the individual’s life.
Among the stress-relieving activities are:
- imaginative play
- light exercises
For people wanting to minimise stress and find relief, getting a full night’s sleep is also essential. A doctor may suggest counselling in some cases.