• Hemifacial Spasm


    Hemifacial spasm is a neuromuscular disorder that causes frequent involuntary contractions to occur in the muscles on one side of the face.


    Hemifacial spasm doesn't always have a specific cause. It may occur as a result of:
    • A blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve
    • Tumor
    • Facial nerve injury
    • Bony or other abnormalities that compress the nerve
    Muscles of the Face
    Muscles of the Face
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Risk Factors

    Hemifacial spasm is more common in middle-aged and elderly women. It is also more common in Asians.


    • Intermittent twitching of the eyelid muscle
    • Forced closure of the eye
    • Spasms of the muscles of the lower face
    • Mouth pulled to one side
    • Continuous spasms involving all the muscles on one side of the face


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
    • Electromyography (EMG)—records electrical activity generated in muscle while contracting and relaxing
    • Angiography —uses contrast material to see blood vessels
    Images of internal body structures may be taken with an MRI scan or CT scan .


    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.


    Your doctor may recommend antiseizure medications to help relieve symptoms.

    Botulinum Toxin Injections

    Injecting botulinum toxin into the affected muscles can stop eyelid spasm for several months. These injections must be repeated, usually several times a year. Botulinum toxin injections are the treatment of choice.


    Microvascular decompression surgery repositions the blood vessel away from the nerve. This is successful in cases of hemifacial spasm where the cause is suspected to be a blood vessel compressing the facial nerve.


    There are no current guidelines to prevent hemifacial spasm.


    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov

    National Organization for Rare Disorders http://www.rarediseases.org


    Canadian Movement Disorder Group http://www.cmdg.org

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca


    Alexander GE, Moses H. Carbamazepine for hemifacial spasm. Neurology. 1982;32(3):286-287.

    Defazio G, Martino D, Aniello MS, et al. Influence of age on the association between primary hemifacial spasm and arterial hypertension. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003;74(7):979-981.

    Digre K, Corbett JJ. Hemifacial spasm: Differential diagnosis, mechanism, and treatment. Adv Neurol. 1988;49:151-176.

    NINDS hemifacial spasm information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hemifacial%5Fspasm/hemifacial%5Fspasm.htm. Updated October 11, 2011. Accessed July 11, 2013.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.