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.

There are several treatment options to help patients suffering from hemifacial spasm:

  • Botulinum toxin Type A injections: administered by a specialist (neurologist, ophthalmologist or ENT specialist) into the orbicularis oculi muscle (the elliptical muscle around the eye and eyebrows), and possibly also into the muscles in the lower part of the face. The botulinum neurotoxin blocks the nerve signal to the muscle and helps to reduce the muscle contractions. The effects of the treatment last around 13 months, and the injections can be repeated indefinitely.
  • Surgery: may be offered as an alternative to botulin toxin injections, especially when the hemifacial spasm occurs following injury. For young patients, surgery is often the best treatment option in this case.
  • Drug treatments: a variety of oral medications are used to treat hemifacial spasm, such as anti-epileptic, cholinolytic and sedative medications. Facial nerve alcoholization is also used, but with relative efficacy.

Generally appears between the ages of 50 and 70

More common in women

Brain MRI to aid diagnosis

Last update 13/04/2017