Migraine headache in patients with Tourette syndrome

Arch Neurol. 2003 Nov;60(11):1595-8. doi: 10.1001/archneur.60.11.1595.


Background: Tourette syndrome (TS) is recognized as one of the most common childhood movement disorders, characterized by motor and phonic tics often associated with neurobehavioral comorbidities, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neurotransmitter dysregulation, particularly involving the serotonin system, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of TS, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and migraine headache.

Objectives: To investigate the possible association between migraine headache and TS and to report preliminary findings of family history of migraine headache in patients with TS.

Methods: Subjects diagnosed as having TS at the Baylor College of Medicine Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic were administered a migraine headache questionnaire based on the migraine criteria established by the Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society.

Results: Of 100 patients with TS, 25 (25.0%) satisfied the diagnostic criteria for migraine headache, significantly greater than the estimated 10% to 13% in the general adult population (P<.001) and the estimated 2% to 10% in the general pediatric population (P<.04). There was no significant (P =.44) difference in the presence of comorbid obsessive-compulsive traits in the TS migraine and TS nonmigraine sample groups. Furthermore, our TS group with migraines was not more likely to have features of obsessive-compulsive disorder compared with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Of patients with TS, 56.0% reported a family history of migraines, 44.0% of whom were first-degree relatives.

Conclusions: The frequency of migraine headache in a clinic sample of TS subjects was nearly 4-fold more than the frequency of migraines reported in the general population. Contrary to previous reports, the co-occurrence of migraines and TS in our sample group may possibly be attributed to another TS comorbidity, other than obsessive-compulsive traits.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tourette Syndrome / complications*