Hemifacial Spasm

Patients with hemifacial spasm experience involuntary twitching on one side of the face. While it may not hurt, it can cause significant irritation and interfere with vision during normal activities. 

AHN neurologists and neurosurgeons specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hemifacial spasm and cranial nerve disorders. We have many treatment options to treat the spasms or eliminate the underlying cause.  

What is hemifacial spasm?

Hemifacial spasm is a cranial nerve disorder that causes involuntary twitching or contractions of the facial muscles on one side of your face. Typically, the spasm starts near your eye and progresses down your face. The twitching is not painful, but it can interfere with your normal expression and vision. It can be caused by a blood vessel or tumor compressing the nerve or an injury to the facial nerve. In some cases, there’s no obvious underlying cause. 

Hemifacial spasm care at AHN: Why choose us?

The experts at the AHN Neuroscience Institute perform pioneering treatments that provide relief from disorders like trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasms. Our multidisciplinary program focuses specifically on the treatment of cranial nerve disorders, providing you with comprehensive care that addresses your unique medical situation, pain, and psychological well-being.

How we diagnose hemifacial spasm

An MRI scan may be ordered to rule out other conditions, such as a brain tumor, aneurysm, or arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that may be causing facial nerve compression. To rule out other conditions, your physician may recommend an electromyogram, which measures electrical activity in muscles at rest versus when they’re contracting. This is often accompanied by a nerve conduction velocity test, which measures how well and how fast your nerves send electric signals. 

How we treat hemifacial spasm

Our AHN neurosurgeons will work closely with you to determine the best treatment approach. Your plan may include: 

  • Medications. Anticonvulsant drugs may be all that’s required to block the nerve from firing. Muscle relaxants can also be effective.
  • BOTOX® injections. Botulinum toxin, or BOTOX, is a protein that causes muscle paralysis by blocking the electrical messages that tell the muscle to move. A very fine needle delivers injections into your facial muscles. It typically begins working within three days and lasts for three months. BOTOX injections can be repeated indefinitely, but the effectiveness diminishes over time.
  • Microvascular decompression. This surgical procedure involves relocating or removing blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal root by placing a pad between the nerve and the arteries. Depending on the location of the blood vessel, this procedure may be able to be performed through an endoscope. Through tiny incisions, the surgeon uses the scope to deliver a sponge between the blood vessel and nerve to reduce pressure and stop the spasms. 

Contact us

Call (412) 359-6200 to schedule an appointment or learn more about hemifacial spasm.