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Hemifacial spasm

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

About

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 icon plus

    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 
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    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.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    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.
     
Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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