Median Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Tics: A 4-Week Open Trial with Ecological Momentary Assessment

Ann M. Iverson, Amanda L. Arbuckle, David Y. Song, Emily C. Bihun, Kevin J. Black

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Median nerve stimulation (MNS) at 10–12 Hz was recently proposed as a treatment for Tourette syndrome and other chronic tic disorders (TS/CTD). We report on 31 participants ages 15–64 with TS/CTD in an open-label, comparative (within-group, several time points) study of MNS ( registration number NCT05016765). Participants were recruited from completers of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of MNS and were given a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit to use as desired for 12 Hz MNS for 4 weeks. Participants were instructed to complete surveys regarding tic symptoms and stimulation discomfort before and after stimulation, as well as twice daily when randomly prompted by text message. Participants also completed an extensive final survey. Twenty-seven participants completed the study. Median device use was 1.5 days per week and 50 min per day used. Tic frequency improved during MNS (mean improvement: 1.0 on a 0–5 scale, p < 0.001), as did tic intensity (mean improvement: 0.9, p < 0.001). Mean discomfort was mild (1.2 on a 3-point scale). In total, 21 participants (78%) planned to continue using the device. Participants’ results in this study did not correlate significantly with their results in the blinded RCT. We found MNS to improve tic frequency and intensity with minimal side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2545
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Tourette syndrome
  • clinical trial
  • median nerve stimulation
  • open label
  • persistent motor tic disorder
  • tic disorders


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