Tourette's syndrome in adults

Mov Disord. 2010 Oct 15;25(13):2171-5. doi: 10.1002/mds.23199.


Tourette's syndrome (TS) is defined as motor and phonic tics starting before age 18 years, and therefore most studies have focused on childhood TS, whereas the disorder in adults has not been well characterized. We reviewed medical records of all new TS patients referred to our Movement Disorders Clinic over the past 5 years, 19 years or older on initial evaluation and compared them with 100 TS patients 18 years or younger. The mean age at initial visit of 43 adult TS patients was 58.8 ± 6.7 years, whereas the mean age at initial visit of children with TS was 12.9 ± 2.0 years. Of the adult TS patients, 35 (81.4%) had a history of tics with onset before the age of 18 years (mean age at onset: 8.5 ± 3.4 years), with 8 (18.6%) reporting first occurrence of tics after the age of 18 years (mean age at onset: 37.8 ± 13.2 years). Only two (4.7%) patients reported tic onset after the age of 50 years. Adult patients with TS had significantly more facial and truncal tics, and a greater prevalence of substance abuse and mood disorders, but fewer phonic tics, and lower rates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional behavior than children with TS. Adult TS largely represents reemergence or exacerbation of childhood-onset TS. During the course of TS, phonic and complex motor tics, self-injurious behaviors, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to improve, but facial, neck, and trunk tics dominate the adult TS phenotype. In addition, adults with TS are more likely to exhibit substance abuse and mood disorders compared with children with TS.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tics / complications
  • Tourette Syndrome* / complications
  • Tourette Syndrome* / epidemiology