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Uncontrollable head jerking/bobbing in 9yo boy
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Uncontrollable head jerking/bobbing in 9yo boy

My Nephew, whom I am raising, began in the latter part of the last school year to have a spastic type head bobbing that seems compulsive begin to occur.  I immediately took him to see his doctor, who said he needed more sleep (which he steadfastly refuses to do) and I should just watch it.  She said he would likely outgrow it.  I have my doubts though...

Over the summer, I noticed that while he still had the problem, it lessened.  It seems to be most pronounced when he's trying to do something that requires concentration, studying, playing video games, even playing with toys.  And when he's trying to tell you something.

The movement is something like this: as he speaks, plays, or works, he'll jerk his head forward in these short, sharp bobs.  It usually happens 3 or 4 times each time, and he may go through several series of sets of 3 or 4 jerks.  He doesn't seem to notice this a lot of the time, though he is actually well aware it's happening.  He says it's difficult to control, but I notice if I tell him to stop, he usually can.

I don't know if this is spastic or habitual or what.  But he doesn't seem to be able to prevent it from starting even if he can usually will it to stop - if you remind him to.

I'm very worried that this is a harbinger of larger problems brewing instead of a passing phase, and since his Doctor seems so convinced it's nothing to worry about, she doesn't seem to be inclined to send him to a specialist, which I think he really needs.

I know you can't diagnose at a distance, but if you can give me an idea of what the problem might be, what I should research to look for commonalities, and how best to convince his doctor to refer him to a specialist, I would be very grateful.

Thank you so much!

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Avatar_f_tn
This might be a tic, or the beginning of Tourette's Syndrome.
He should be evaluated by a pediatric neurologist for this.

In the meantime, taking supplemental magnesium may help.
You can google for information about magnesium and tics.

Wishing you the best,
Carol

p.s.  How much sleep does he get?  Does he have problems falling asleep?
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your help!  I'll look into magnesium...  I hope of course it's not Tourette's, but I've wondered if that was possible.  It doesn't seem to be getting worse, though, just stays constant - though it's more pronounced during the school year than during the summer - I think just because he's concentrating more when he has school.

He really fights about going to bed but I'm putting my foot down so he does, grumpily, and he tries to delay any way he can think of.  It's a nightly battle.  He's just not tired when he ought to be.  I'm still going to keep putting him to bed on time though, like it or not.  Doctor's orders.

Thanks!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi,

How are you?
Yes it does seem to be some kind of a tic. Do not worry it may go away on its own. Medications in this condition do more harm than good.
Just remember not to keep reminding him about it as it will only make things worse.
Take care!





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Avatar_n_tn
Although more common in older adults, it may be a form of dystonia similar to which I suffer. As you mention, it's impossible to diagnose here and could be a number of things. I would strongly recommend that he be evaluated by a neurologist. They have extensive additional schooling and experience with these types of issues. I say this with no disrespect to primary care doctors; most, however, especially in less rural areas, have not had the exposure to some of the rare neurological disorders. I have a rare disorder myself (cervical dystonia) that most primary care and ER doctors have never had exposure to. Your best bet would probably be to seek out a neurologist in a large teaching or university hospital, if you have one near you. It would be better to have a neuro evaluate him and find it's nothing serious, than to ignore it. Good luck.
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Avatar_f_tn
my 7 yr old daughter over the past few months has started squinting her eyes, then she started rolling her eyes up in her head and know has added a little bit of a jerk to the neck.Her ped. has reffered us to a neurologist but her behavior is really getting out of control and I don't know what to say to her about what is going on with her mostly honestly because I don't know. She has had snorting episodes before and trouble breathing which the doc. said was because she had convinced herself she had asthma and after talking to her we found out her teacher was using an inhaler in front of her and we thoght maybe that was why she was taking in such hard breathes which stopped after talking to the doc. I am so worried about her and her explosive outburst. She also has to spin circles anytime we go into a store and sing really loud. I am at my wits end here. We have switched her allergy meds. to zyrtec so she seems to sleep better but I don't know if there is anything else in the meantime I can do. I could really use some advice.
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Avatar_f_tn
sorry new at this thought I was posting for everyone to see.
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Avatar_n_tn
Debbie,

I reccommed first that you open a seperate thread so that your topic will show up in the main forum, and that way doctors and others will see your question.  Secondly, I'd say definately have her evaluated by a neurologist and a child behavioral psychiatrist.  I'm thinking in my own case here not to trust what just one doctor says but to seek multiple opinions and see if a consensus is out there.  I'd advise you to do the same.

One thing I can say is that you should perhaps consider upping her magnesium in her diet.  The original response to my post was by Carol who suggested I look into that, and having done so I think it was worthwhile.

I have found through my research (by doing as Carol suggested and googling magnesium and tics) that a magnesium deficiency may play a key role in not only my Nephew's problem, but problems with other members of my family as well.  My Nephew as you know has the head nodding/jerking tic, but what I didn't realize may be connected is that my Mother has Fibromyalgia and my Sister and Brother both suffer from Migraines.  All three of these problems, I found, can be due to a Magnesium deficient diet.  And since we all established our eating habits together, I thought there might be something to this.

So, I have put my Nephew on more Magnesium and while the tics haven't gone away completely, both their frequency and their severity has gone way, way down.  Over the past few days, since I started feeding him nuts, peanut butter, and beans, I've noticed him have the tic only twice instead of every few minutes!  And while the second time was as pronounced as ever, the first time was almost imperceptible.  Also, after asking him if he'd eaten his nuts today, after he head nodded the second time, he said he forgot.  So I think there could be a direct correllation between his diet, and his head nodding.

It's still to early to say so definitively, but it's looking good.  Hopefully, others with similar problems will read this and try it too.  It seems to be helping.

As for my Mother, Sister, and Brother, it's not yet clear if it's helping them.  However I've noticed that my Mother hasn't complained of pain as much as usual since she started snacking on Almonds.

I am still open to suggestions folks, please keep commenting if you have one.  Thanks!
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Avatar_f_tn
UncleDad:
I am so glad to hear that a magnesium rich diet is helping your son.

For the adults, a supplement like Source Natural's Ultra-Mag is good.
This particular product has four kinds of available magnesium.
You can go to iHerbdot com to view the product details.

Also, for the insomnia, read about supplemental Melatonin.

Carol
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Avatar_n_tn
I found out three years ago that magnesium might help with my migraines. I was having them about 4 times/month. After starting on a mag suplement I only get them 1 time per year, on adverage. It has been a true cure to my migraines. Now my son has started a tic (head jerking) and I am facinated to see that magnesium might be helpful in him! Can magnesium defiencies run in famililes?
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1687465_tn?1305597331
i myself am 24 years old and ive had this problem since before i can remember. for me it seems to get worse in the summer months, and is quite aggervating, embarassing, and a real self esteem eliminator. i also have no clue as to what it is, what causes it, or any of the sort, altho i plan on heading to a doc soon to see what they can tell me i will definately let you know anything i find out. i can say tho seeing as your nephew is only 9 if at all possible see any doctor you can til you find a cure for this, because when he gets into the higher school grades it will cause problems for him outside of his close friends and family
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Avatar_m_tn
I realize this is an old post, but I found it through a search and wanted to ad my 2c in case others found it as well.

I was looking for info because my husband constantly moves his head while doing/watching anything. This is due to a severe nystagmus. If he did not move his head, he would see swirls of light because of his eyes always moving. When he moves his head, his eyes stay still. He does it subconsciously, but can stop his head from moving if he concentrates enough. Although, then he can't see due to his yes wobbling.

I thought I'd add that so if someone else notices their loved one always moving their head, there are other possible reasons besides those listed above.
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Avatar_f_tn
My 10 year old has been bobbling his head since he was a couple months old. Neurologist said it was stereotypic movement disorder. Said it was common and would grow out of it. It hasn't changed and I have never seen another child do what he does. I have a video to watch of him to see if anybody has seen it before. How can I post it?
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