Hemifacial spasm is a neuromuscular disorder. The disorder is characterized by frequent involuntary contractions (spasms) of the muscles on one side (hemi-) of the face (facial). Hemifacial spasm more frequently affects middle-aged or elderly women, although it can occur at any age.
The earliest symptom of hemifacial spasm is an intermittent twitching of the eyelid muscle, which sometimes leads to forced closure of the eye. The spasm later spreads to the lower face muscles and makes the mouth to be pulled to one side.
Hemifacial spasm may be caused by a facial nerve injury, a tumour or at times for no apparent cause. Most often, the spasm is caused by a blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve at the place where it exits the brainstem.
Surgical treatment in the form of microvascular decompression is one of the main treatments that are being used for hemifacial spasm. It helps relieve pressure on the facial nerve. Among other treatment options are injections of botulinum toxin into the affected areas and drug therapy with medications.
The prognosis of hemifacial spasm depends on the treatment and individual’s response to treatment. Some individuals get relief at once, while some may require additional surgery. Some patients respond well with botulinum toxin or drugs and don’t require any further treatment.
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