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Hemifacial Spasm

What is Hemifacial Spasm?

Hemifacial spasm is a movement disorder that causes contractions or twitching on one side of the face. The spasms are involuntary, meaning they happen on their own without trying. The symptoms of hemifacial spasm typically start with slight twitching around the eye, but as the condition progresses, they may spread to the entire side of the face. The spasms can be very severe and may interfere with everyday activities such as eating, speaking, or even sleeping.

What are The Symptoms of Hemifacial Spasm?

The primary symptom of hemifacial spasm is intermittent, involuntary twitching or contraction of the muscles on one side of the face. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Uncontrollable blinking or twitching of one eyelid
  • Facial pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Uncontrollable movement of the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty smiling or frowning

This rare condition is more common in women than in men, affecting about 14.5 per 100,000 women and 7.4 per 100,000 men worldwide. It is also much more common in the Asian population than in other races.

Hemifacial spasms can occur spontaneously or caused by secondary conditions such as a blood vessel, a tumour pressing on the facial nerve, or after Bell’s palsy. There is evidence to suggest that hemifacial spasm may be inherited, although the exact genes involved are not yet known. In rare cases, it can be caused by an infection and certain medications.

  • Medications such as muscle relaxants, anticonulsants and others: Gabapentin, Baclofen, Diazepam, and Tegretol
  • Botulinum toxin injection
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
  • Surgery

Botulinum toxin injection is a widely used treatment for hemifacial spasm. This minimally invasive procedure offers quick and effective relief from muscle spasms in the face.

The injection contains small quantities of botulinum toxin, a protein that works by relaxing the facial muscles. Specifically, to address hemifacial spasm, the toxin is injected into the facial muscles that surround the nerve responsible for the spasms.

When the toxin enters the muscle cells, it blocks the release of neurotransmitters (acetylcholine), which play a crucial role in muscle contraction. This interference essentially prevents the muscles from receiving signals from the brain and reduces the spasms.

Who Are Good Candidates for Botulinum toxin injection?

Good candidates for botulinum toxin injections are those who:

  • Have not seen any improvement or have experienced unbearable side effects from other treatments
  • Do not have any contraindications such as infection, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or allergy to botulinum

What to Expect After the injection?

Botulinum toxin is considered the most effective treatment for hemifacial spasms in most cases. The treatment has a high efficacy rate of 73% to 98.4% lasting 3 to 6 months. Studies show that the response rate and average duration of relief remain consistent for over 10 years.

The injections are generally well tolerated and have few side effects, such as swelling, bruising, pain, dry eye, drooping eyelid, or asymmetry of facial expression. These side effects are usually mild and transient.

Book an appointment

Suffering from hemifacial spasm? Don’t let it take a toll on your life! At Melbourne Neurocare, we offer much-needed relief through our specialist-administered botulinum toxin injections. Our compassionate and experienced team will work with you to customize a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and lifestyle. Get your life back and contact Melbourne Neurocare today to book an appointment.