Hemifacial spasm

Our leading neuroscience team offer treatment for hemifacial spasm, including microvascular decompression surgery

Enquiries & Appointments


This is a rare condition characterised by irregular, involuntary muscle contractions (spasms) on one side of the face. The cause is not known but one theory is that an artery presses against the facial nerve (the nerve that moves the face), irritating the nerve and causing the twitching.

Need to know

Symptoms of hemifacial spasm happen on one side of the face usually the left. These involuntary spasms can occur around the eye, cheek and mouth, and can get worse under stress. General symptoms include:

  • twitching of the eyelid muscle this may come or go
  • muscle spasms which force an eye shut
  • muscle spasms in the lower face
  • mouth to one side
  • muscle spams across the length of the face
  • pain behind the ear

Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and help to make a diagnosis. After ruling out other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, they may order some imaging tests. An MRI scan creates clear images of your head and may display (though not always) the blood vessel responsible for the facial spasms. A contrast dye may be used to display the vein more clearly on the MRI scan.

Your consultant will discuss your treatment options and help to determine the best approach for you.

  • Muscle-relaxant injections are an effective way to treat hemifacial spasms. They temporarily paralyse the muscles responsible for the spams. You will need regular injections.
  • Microvascular decompression surgery is another option. Here, a neurosurgeon opens the skull, locates the facial nerve and puts artificial material (Teflon wool) between the nerve and blood vessel. This relieves pressure on the nerve and stops the spasm.

Our Hemifacial spasm locations

SPECIALIST UNIT  London Neurosurgery Partnership

SPECIALIST UNIT London Neurosurgery Partnership

78 Harley Street W1G 7HJ London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.