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Chiropractic Care for Tourette Syndrome

Published Date: 
December 18, 2023
Man laying face down on chiropractic table getting a neck adjustment from female chiropractor.

Chiropractic care is arguably one of the most effective treatments for managing the symptoms of Tourette syndrome. It's safe and all-natural. For many, it alleviates the need for medication and makes managing the condition easier.

Understanding Tourette Syndrome and its Symptoms

Tourette syndrome, also called Tourettes or tic syndrome, is a disorder that triggers repetitive involuntary movements or unwanted sounds from a person. These tics are considered uncontrollable, but some people can hold their tics back with some effort. Tics range from mild to severe. Tourette's typically develops between the ages of 2 and 15 and tends to be a lifetime condition. Males are far more likely to develop Tourette's than females.

Tourette syndrome has no cure, but there are many treatment options available that help people control their symptoms. Some people's symptoms are mild enough that they don't interfere with their lives, and they don't even seek treatment. In some cases, symptoms peak during adolescence and lessen as the person ages. 

Symptoms of Tourette's include sudden, brief, intermittent sounds or movements. Tics are categorized as simple or complex. Simple tics involve a limited number of muscle groups, while complex tics are coordinated patterns of movement involving several muscle groups.

Tics can vary in frequency, severity, and type. They tend to worsen when someone is excited, anxious, stressed, or under duress. They can occur during sleep. Tics also change over time and can improve with age. Most people report experiencing uncomfortable sensations in their bodies preceding the occurrence of a tic. They describe the sensation as tension or a tingle or itching. Expressing the tic relieves the discomfort.

Simple Motor Tics

Simple motor tics include:

  • Blinking
  • Head jerking
  • Nose twitching
  • Mouth movements
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Eye darting

Complex Motor Tics

Complex motor tics include:

  • Touching objects
  • Smelling objects
  • Hopping
  • Repeating observed movements
  • Stepping in a certain pattern
  • Obscene gesturing
  • Bending or twisting

Simple Vocal Tics

Simple vocal tics include:

  • Grunting
  • Barking
  • Coughing
  • Throat clearing

Complex Vocal Tics

Complex vocal tics include:

  • Repeating one's own words or phrases
  • Repeating other people's words or phrases
  • Using vulgar or obscene language or swear words

How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Can Help Manage Tics

Chiropractic adjustments can reduce both the severity and frequency of Tourette's symptoms. This is likely because the spine and nervous system are interrelated.

Case Studies

One study showed a 15-year-old male patient with Tourette's, who also experienced migraine headaches and learning difficulties responded well to chiropractic care. The case study suggests that there may be value in the use of chiropractic care for Tourette's and other common conditions that are beyond musculoskeletal.

According to Massage Magazine, 100 Tourette's patients or their caregivers completed a questionnaire on the use of complementary and alternative medicine CAM. Sixty-four patients utilized at least one CAM modality, including chiropractic care, massage, meditation, dietary alterations, and supplements. Fifty-six percent of those using CAM reported some improvement.

Alternative Therapies and Lifestyle Changes to Support Chiropractic Care for Managing Tourette's Syndrome

For many, the best way to manage Tourette's syndrome is through lifestyle changes. These can be used with medication, but for many, these changes are enough to make their condition manageable.

Full Body Relaxation

There is evidence that relaxation therapy decreases the severity and the frequency of tic symptoms. Chiropractic care and massage therapy are two of the most powerful tools available for helping you relax and release stress in your body.

Young man in relaxed posture, smiling with his eyes closed.


Acupuncture is a proven treatment for relieving the symptoms of Tourette syndrome. There are even some medical professionals who believe that acupuncture offers better short-term outcomes than Western medicine for alleviating Tourette's symptoms. At the least, it's an effective adjuvant therapy in improving the effect of Western medicine on TS.

Nutrition and Aerobic Exercise

While there is no single diet suggested for those with Tourette syndrome, there is evidence that nutrition, as well as physical activity, both have a significant impact on symptoms. Research indicates that certain allergens can exacerbate tic-related symptoms.

For example, many people experience an increase in tics after consuming caffeine or refined sugar. There is also some evidence that oligoantigenic (elimination diets that exclude sugar, corn, eggs, nuts, yeast, soy, and more) and sugar-free diets significantly reduce tics.

Tourette's syndrome ribbon.


Tourette's syndrome is a neurological disorder. The exact cause of Tourette's remains uncertain, but there is likely a component that involves nervous system trauma. Because of this, chiropractic care provides a safe, natural approach to managing the tic disorder.

For many, chiropractic treatment alleviates the need for medications that can trigger adverse side effects. Since the spine plays a crucial role in transmitting messages from the brain to the rest of the body, just a minor misalignment can affect nerve function and trigger tics. Chiropractors identify and adjust these misalignments, potentially reducing the frequency and severity of tics.

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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