Hemifacial spasm

Hemifacial spasm is an involuntary contraction (spasm) of the muscles on one side of the face. This chronic constricting condition can become almost permanent over time and evolve into a disabling disfigurement and social embarrassment. Learn more about the condition, its diagnosis and the different treatment options available.

The diagnosis of hemifacial spasm is based on:

  • The patient’s medical history and medical examination by a general practitioner. The role of the doctor is to distinguish hemifacial spasm from other similar abnormalities, such as blepharospasm, facial ticks, myokimia (repeated involuntary contractions along the entire length of a muscle that create a quivering effect) or post-paralytic facial spasm.
  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain is often prescribed to give a detailed diagnosis. The MRI, together with an angio-MR (magnetic resonance angiogram) will also show any neuro-vascular conflict between the facial nerve and an artery in the brain, which occurs in 88% of patients. In this case, neurosurgery will be needed.

Generally appears between the ages of 50 and 70

More common in women

Brain MRI to aid diagnosis

Last update 13/04/2017