Hemifacial spasm is a condition characterised by spontaneous and uncontrolled twitching of one side of the face, hence its name. It is important to appreciate the relative rarity of the condition and also that it is common to experience some spontaneous twitching, particularly around the eye which is often noticeable when tired. In contrast to this minor twitching around the eye, hemifacial spasm is characterised by being both more severe and more extensive. It can develop in a progressive fashion, often starting with twitching around either the eye or the mouth and spreading to involve the entire face. At its worst, it is both distressingly uncomfortable and socially embarrassing with severe and uncontrollable spasms.
The cause of hemifacial spasm may be a blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve where it passes from its point of origin in the brain stem to the bone of the base of the skull during it passage to the facial muscles that it supplies. The treatment of hemifacial spasm is described in the relevant section of our website but can be either with Botox injections to the relevant part of the face or in severe cases, surgery.