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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Definition

Hemifacial spasm (HS) causes muscles to contract on one side of the face. A person cannot control the spasm.

Causes

HS does not always have a cause. It may be due to:

  • A blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve
  • Facial nerve injury
  • Tumor
Muscles of the Face
Muscles of the Face
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Risk Factors

HS is more common in older women. It is also more common in people who are Asian.

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Twitching of the eyelid muscle that causes the eye to close
  • A mouth that is pulled to one side
  • Spasms of all the muscles on one side of the face

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the face.

Images of the head may be taken. This can be done with:

Nerve and muscle function may be tested. This can be done with electromyography (EMG).

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to ease pressure on the nerve. This can be done with:

  • Injections of botulinum toxin to temporarily stop spasms
  • Antiseizure medicine

Some people may need surgery to reposition a blood vessel that is pressing on a nerve.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this problem.

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

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

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 October 14, 2020.

OnabotulinumtoxinA. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/onabotulinumtoxina . Accessed October 14, 2020.

Revision Information