The Chiropractic Journal of Australia published a case study in their December 2017 issue documenting the case of a patient suffering with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) and chronic tic disorder showing positive improvements due to chiropractic care.
According to the Tourette Association of America, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (also known simply as Tourette syndrome), “…is a neurodevelopmental disorder that becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence. It is part of the spectrum of Tic Disorders and is characterized by motor and vocal tics.”
This issue is not as rare as most people think. According to the study authors, “The current estimates are that 1 out of every 160 children between the ages of 5-17 in the United States has TS and that 1 out of every 100 children has TS or another tic disorder.
The symptoms of Tourette syndrome can include repeatedly blinking of the eyes, shrugging of the shoulders or blurting out unusual sounds or offensive words. The tics, or involuntary movements associated with this condition typically appear between the ages of 2 and 15 years of age. Boys are three to four times more likely to have this problem.
In this study, a 19-year-old man went to the chiropractor for an evaluation. At the age of 12, he fell from a chair. Shortly thereafter, he began to develop uncontrollable tics and muscle spasms. At the age of 14, he was officially diagnosed with Tourette syndrome by his medical doctor. The spasms the boy was suffering from mainly focused in his face, jaw and vocal cords. He also suffered with bilateral spasms of the muscles of his feet. He was treated medically with medication, which had a minimal effect.
Upon presentation to the chiropractor’s office, his tics were objectively evaluated using the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale. This scale is an effective way of measuring the severity of the tics for comparison later in care. According to this scale, his overall impairment due to his condition was rated at 40 percent.
A chiropractic examination and x-rays showed a number of postural abnormalities as well as a reversal of what should be a normal forward curve in the neck. From these findings, it was determined that subluxation was present.
Specific forms of chiropractic care along with certain focused exercises were performed on this patient. Due to the severity of this case, the patient was initially seen five times per week. The patient was visiting the United States from Canada for 12 weeks when he sought chiropractic care. He was therefore only available for care at this facility for 12 weeks before returning to Canada.
An examination was performed to evaluate his progress before he left the country. The results of that evaluation showed that the young man had reduced his overall impairment by half, going from 40% to a 20% impairment according to the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale.
In the authors’ conclusion and discussion, they explain how nerve system interference could create this type of issue by noting, “Altered spinal biomechanics associated with abnormal posture may cause significant neurological stress and malfunction.” They also explained, “The central nervous system (CNS) is the master control system of the human body and ultimately controls and coordinates all body and cellular function. Since the CNS is housed inside the skull and spine, it can be subjected to consequent adverse mechanical tensions.”
In relating to this man’s specific situation, the authors said, “Since the patient reported a traumatic fall at age 12, we propose that the cause of the abnormal spinal configuration was a result of trauma. Through the restoration of normal biomechanical structure and curvature, these abnormal stresses and strains were removed from the spinal cord and neural elements, which led to the improvement in function in this patient.”