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Tourettes and brain damage
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Tourettes and brain damage

   I am an eighteen year old male, and when I was twelve I was diagnosed with a mild case of
Tourettes syndrome. Most of the time the tics are controllable, and often they go
away completely. However, during times of stress or anxiety they can become quite
violent, manifesting primarily as head jerks and tightening of the neck muscles. After a prolonged period of this, I sometimes experience light-headedness and head-ache. My question is then, is there any way these head jerks could be strong enough to damage my brain? I don't hit my head or anything, but the symptoms worry me. I have not heard of anyone with Tourettes causing themselves brain damage, even people with much worse cases than mine, but I would like to be
sure. If I have caused myself brain damage, is there anyway to reverse the effects, or is brain damage always permanent?
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Dear Alexander12321,

Thank you for submitting your question.
I will answer your concerns to the best of my abilities, but please be informed that I am unable to offer a diagnosis based on your history and list of symptoms.
I am limited in not having the opportunity to perform a full neurologic examination on you, nor am I able to review the pertinent imaging.
This is solely for educational purposes and should in no way be a substitute for a formal evaluation by a certified physician.

To begin, I have to say that your question is very interesting -- I've actually never been asked this question nor have I inquired about it myself.
It prompted me to do some research on my own and this is what I found...

To put it in a nutshell, brain injury is known to CAUSE tics but there is not a single piece of literature that I could find that relates brain injury caused by tics in Tourettes.

So my advise to you, is rest assured that most likely your tics are benign in terms of brain injury.

Light-headedness and headaches are common complaints in Tourette patients -- I have low suspicion that they are signs of injury to the brain.

Please continue to see your physician for further management of your Tourettes.

Best of luck,
JKL, MD


2 Comments
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Thank you very much for your help. I had actually called my neurologist after posting this question and asked him the same thing. He said essentially that he believed in order to damage my brain I would have to nearly knock myself out, and that he didn't believe mere tics could cause brain damage. I suppose if two doctors have never heard of any Tourettes patient's tics causing brain damage, it's unlikely I'm in any danger. Particularly   since surely other people have head tics as well, and have not hurt themselves.
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