Often misunderstood and misrepresented, Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder, not a behavioral disorder that causes sufferers to make sounds and movements they cannot control. These are called tics and there are two kinds: motor and vocal. Some common motor tics include blinking, facial grimacing, jaw movements, head and arm jerking and shoulder shrugging. Some of these motor tics can be more complicated and combined. Common vocal tics include sniffing, throat clearing, grunting and shouting. More complicated vocal tics may include words or phrases that do not sound like they should be part of a normal sentence. In a small percentage of cases, they can also be profane in nature.
Symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome are If a child shows at least two motor and one vocal tic and they persist for a period of at least one year. Generally beginning before the age of 18, and becoming worse when the child is excited or agitated, some children can control the tics for a period of time but cannot stop them altogether. Other problems can be associated with Tourette’s syndrome including overactivity, trouble concentrating in school, anxiety and learning difficulties. However, it is important to understand that children and adults living with Tourette’s syndrome are just as smart and live just as long as anyone else.
While it is complicated to determine the exact cause for Tourette’s syndrome, scientists believe that it is caused by problems in one of more parts of the brain, many times likely inherited, but also possibly linked to other triggers such as strep infections have been examined, although the findings are subjective.
Until the 1970’s, it was thought that Tourette’s was very rare, however today more patients experiencing milder symptoms are being diagnosed; the current estimate is 3-6 children out of 1000 are likely to be affected. Treatment for Tourette’s typically includes pharmacology and combined drug therapies, as well as behavioral intervention and even deep brain stimulation for patients who have not responded to other therapies.
However, there are new studies showing promise for Tourette’s treatment through non-invasive and drug-free treatments like Chiropractic Neurology. In a study published by the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health, research shows support for chiropractic care in the case of Tourette’s and other disorders that share their origin with Tourette’s syndrome as well. This research shows that as the brain develops, it relies on normal structural movement and joint movement, and also that complex communication and pathways in the brain are tied to spinal biomechanics and their neurological pathways.
Dr. Kim Muhlenkamp, one of the co-authors of the study explains, “It makes perfect sendse when you think about it. Neurological disorders may be related to how the entire body communicates with the brain and the most critical area for this is the spine.”
Our nervous systems need constant stimulation in order to develop properly. Abnormal positioning can lead to nerve interference, or vertebral subluxations, which chiropractors correct. The added benefits of a care plan developed with a Chiropractic Neurologist for neurological conditions like Tourette’s syndrome makes a perfect fit as this specialized area of chiropractic treatment focuses on the brain and spine connection to the entire body. As research continues, and more and more information and real world studies become available, the results continue to be promising.
If you or a loved one suffer from symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome and would like to know if Chiropractic Neurology is a viable treatment option, please contact Dr Marc Ellis and his team at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center for more information.