Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Hemifacial Spasm

Definition

Hemifacial spasm (HS) causes muscles to contract on one side of the face. They happen without your control.

Causes  ^

HS doesn't always have a cause. It may be due to:

  • A blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve
  • Tumor
  • Facial nerve injury
  • Bony or other abnormalities that press the nerve

Muscles of the Face
Muscles of the Face

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Risk Factors  ^

HS is more common in older women.

Symptoms  ^

You may have:

  • Twitching of the eyelid muscle
  • Forced closure of the eye
  • Lower face spasms
  • Mouth pulled to one side
  • Spasms of all the muscles on one side of the face

Diagnosis  ^

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:

  • A physical exam
  • Electromyography (EMG)—records eletricity generated in muscle while at work and at rest
  • Angiography—uses contrast material to see blood vessels

Pictures of your body may be taken This can be done with:

Treatment  ^

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.

Medication

Your doctor may have you take antiseizure medicines. They may help to ease symptoms.

Injections

Botulinum toxinmay be injected into the muscles. It can stop eyelid spasm for many months. This must be repeated, usually many times a year. This is the main way to treat HS.

Surgery

You may have surgery to reposition the blood vessel away from the nerve. This is helps people with HS caused by a blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve.

Prevention  ^

HS can't be prevented.

RESOURCES:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

National Organization for Rare Disorders
http://www.rarediseases.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Movement Disorder Group
http://www.cmdg.org

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Alexander GE, Moses H. Carbamazepine for hemifacial spasm. Neurology. 1982;32(3):286-287.

Chaudhry N, Srivrastava A, Joshi L. Hemifacial spasm: the past, present, and future. J Neurol Sci. 2015;356(1-2):27-31.

Defazio G, Martino D, Aniello MS, et al. Influence of age on the association between primary hemifacial spasm and arterial hypertension. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003;74(7):979-981.

Digre K, Corbett JJ. Hemifacial spasm: Differential diagnosis, mechanism, and treatment. Adv Neurol. 1988;49:151-176.

NINDS hemifacial spasm information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/all-disorders/hemifacial-spasm-information-page. Accessed June 20, 2018.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 6/19/2018