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Are involuntary movements in eyes, head and neck in a child normal?

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Posted on Mon, 23 May 2016
Question: my son makes awkard moves with his eye and his head and his neck, what should I do, is this something I should be concern about.
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Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka (39 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Possible tics.

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

Now of course I am not able to observe these movements or examine him for other neurological signs, but judging from his age the most likely diagnosis seems to be a case of motor tics. Tics are involuntary rapid repetitive contractions of a group of muscles, which according to the involved muscles may take several forms like eye blinking, nose wrinkling, facial grimaces, head jerking etc. May be exacerbated by anxiety, fatigue etc.

They are very common in children. Cause is poorly understood in most cases, but fortunately they peak in early to mid adolescence and after start to wane. 50% of patients are free of them by the age of 18, but even the rest have them in a much diminished measure.

Now if my hypothesis is correct you shouldn't be alarmed, but still a neurological exam is advised sooner or later to check for other possible neurological signs as well as observe the movements in order to make sure it is not a case of other movement disorders such as dystonia or chorea.

As for treatment necessity, it is not always necessary, depends on how frequent the movements are and how much they affect daily life, if not much nothing may be undertaken. If it is decided to treat first step is trying to reduce stress, tiredness and behavioral psychotherapy. If medication is necessary there are several options such as tetrabenazine, benzodiazepines, neuroleptics, clonidine, botulinic toxin injections.

I remain at your disposal for further questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Olsi Taka

Neurologist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3667 Questions

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Are involuntary movements in eyes, head and neck in a child normal?

Brief Answer: Possible tics. Detailed Answer: I read your question carefully and I understand your concern. Now of course I am not able to observe these movements or examine him for other neurological signs, but judging from his age the most likely diagnosis seems to be a case of motor tics. Tics are involuntary rapid repetitive contractions of a group of muscles, which according to the involved muscles may take several forms like eye blinking, nose wrinkling, facial grimaces, head jerking etc. May be exacerbated by anxiety, fatigue etc. They are very common in children. Cause is poorly understood in most cases, but fortunately they peak in early to mid adolescence and after start to wane. 50% of patients are free of them by the age of 18, but even the rest have them in a much diminished measure. Now if my hypothesis is correct you shouldn't be alarmed, but still a neurological exam is advised sooner or later to check for other possible neurological signs as well as observe the movements in order to make sure it is not a case of other movement disorders such as dystonia or chorea. As for treatment necessity, it is not always necessary, depends on how frequent the movements are and how much they affect daily life, if not much nothing may be undertaken. If it is decided to treat first step is trying to reduce stress, tiredness and behavioral psychotherapy. If medication is necessary there are several options such as tetrabenazine, benzodiazepines, neuroleptics, clonidine, botulinic toxin injections. I remain at your disposal for further questions.