Hemifacial spasm is a neuromuscular disorder that causes frequent involuntary contractions to occur in the muscles on one side of the face.
Hemifacial spasm doesn't always have a specific cause. It may occur as a result of:
- A blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve
- Facial nerve injury
- Bony or other abnormalities that compress the nerve
|Muscles of the Face
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Hemifacial spasm is more common in middle-aged and elderly women. It is also more common in Asians.
- Intermittent twitching of the eyelid muscle
- Forced closure of the eye
- Spasms of the muscles of the lower face
- Mouth pulled to one side
- Continuous spasms involving all the muscles on one side of the face
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
(EMG)—records electrical activity generated in muscle while contracting and relaxing
—uses contrast material to see blood vessels
Images of internal body structures may be taken with an
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Your doctor may recommend antiseizure medications to help relieve symptoms.
Botulinum Toxin Injections
into the affected muscles can stop eyelid spasm for several months. These injections must be repeated, usually several times a year.
Botulinum toxin injections are the treatment of choice.
Microvascular decompression surgery repositions the blood vessel away from the nerve. This is successful in cases of hemifacial spasm where the cause is suspected to be a blood vessel compressing the facial nerve.
There are no current guidelines to prevent hemifacial spasm.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Canadian Movement Disorder Group
Hemifacial Spasm Association
Alexander GE, Moses H. Carbamazepine for hemifacial spasm.
Defazio G, Martino D, Aniello MS, et al. Influence of age on the association between primary hemifacial spasm and arterial hypertension.
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Digre K, Corbett JJ. Hemifacial spasm: differential diagnosis, mechanism, and treatment.
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Arch Neurol Psychiatry.
Hemifacial spasm. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Hemifacial spasm information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hemifacial%5Fspasm/hemifacial%5Fspasm.htm. Updated October 11, 2011. Accessed July 11, 2013.
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 2007 safety alerts for drugs, biologics, medical devices, and dietary supplements: Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol and generics). Medwatch. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: