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
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:
- Electromyography (EMG)—records electrical activity generated in muscle while contracting and relaxing
- Angiography —uses contrast material to see blood vessels
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Botulinum Toxin Injections
Injecting botulinum toxin 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.
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
Alexander GE, Moses H. Carbamazepine for hemifacial spasm. Neurology. 1982;32(3):286-287.
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: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hemifacial_spasm/hemifacial_spasm.htm. Updated October 11, 2011. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.