A hemifacial spasm is segmental myoclonus of the muscles. The disease occurs between the ages of 50 and 60. It almost always occurs on one side. Although doctors sometimes see bilateral involvement in severe cases. Face twitching usually begins with short clonic movements of the circular eye muscle and, within a few years, spreads to other facial muscles (frontal, subcutaneous, zygomaticus, etc.). Clonic movements gradually progress to steady tonic contractions of the muscles involved. Chronic irritation of the facial nerve or nucleus can occur for various reasons.
The facial musculature is subject to motor disorders like the limb or trunk muscles. Myoclonus, dystonia, and other disorders manifest as specific syndromes in the facial musculature. Also, the neurological disease can be one of the facial twitching causes. A clear understanding of the mechanism of the disorders allows for proper diagnosis. Read our article below to learn more about this condition.
Hemifacial Spasm Symptoms
Facial spasms characterize a spontaneous hemifacial spasm. They are myoclonic spasms and resemble segmental myoclonus. Involuntary movements of the facial muscles are the only hemifacial spasm symptoms. Fatigue, anxiety, or reading can precipitate the movements. Postparalytic hemifacial spasm manifests as facial synkinesia and contractures. The muscles on the affected side of the face twitch involuntarily. This usually starts with the eyelids and then spreads to the cheeks and mouth. The cramps may be intermittent initially but then become almost constant. Moreover, this disorder can lead to the worsening of other issues in the organism. As headaches can occur during a hemifacial spasm.
Hemifacial spasm is painless but may be uncomfortable and look like a seizure. The twitching may occur at first but may become permanent. It affects people’s lives in the community. It is important to have professionals who can help identify this condition. Below you can see more information.
Involuntary twitching or spasms of the facial muscles
The overstimulation of the facial nerve cause muscle spasms in the face. It controls the movement of the muscles on one side of the face. The spasms can vary in intensity and duration. Certain movements or activities may trigger them. Over time, the twitching may spread to involve other facial muscles on the same side. It will be difficult to control facial expressions.
Twitching or spasms that can occur at any time
Common triggers include speaking, eating, yawning, or even just smiling. In some cases, the triggers may become so severe. They significantly impact daily activities and quality of life. This is because these actions require the activation of the facial muscles. They can overstimulate the affected nerve and lead to involuntary face twitching or spasms.
Progression of twitching to other parts of the face
The hemifacial spasm can progress over time to involve other parts of the face. The overstimulated nerve responsible for controlling the facial muscles causes facial twitching. Also, it can cause involuntary contractions of the muscles in those areas. As the condition progresses, the twitching may become more frequent and widespread.
Eye problems are common hemifacial spasm symptoms in people. Particularly it happens on the side of the face where the twitching or spasms occur. The involuntary contractions can affect the eyelid. It causes difficulty keeping the eye open or involuntary eye closure (blepharospasm). This can interfere with vision and cause problems with reading or driving. Additionally, the affected eye may tear too much due to the stimulation of the lacrimal gland.
Headaches or facial pain
Headaches or facial pain can occur in people with hemifacial spasms. Facial muscle spasms can cause tension and strain on the muscles. It results in discomfort and pain in the affected area. Also, repetitive or hemifacial spasms can cause stress and tension, leading to headaches or migraines.
What neurological causes facial twitching?
The triggering factor for the development of muscle spasms in the face may be:
- neurological problems;
- vascular lesions;
- psychological disorders, and medications.
Tics involving the facial muscles can affect different areas of the face. For example, blepharospasm which characterized by intense blinking and squeezing of the eyes. The development of the disease usually occurs gradually. The initial sensation of irritation is then followed by:
- episodes of prolonged squeezing.
The involuntary movements may disappear in a unique environment. This type of hemifacial spasm occurs with neurological diseases of the brain:
Facial twitching is most often a manifestation of hyperkinesias and neurological syndromes. They are more common regarding muscle coverage. These include the well-known Tourette’s syndrome, characterized by:
- motor and vocal tics;
- attention deficits;
- obsessive-compulsive states.
In boys, tics are more often combined with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In girls, it occurs with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Read below for more information about this disorder.
Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions. They cause twisting, repetitive movements, or abnormal postures. It can affect any body part, including the face, neck, limbs, and trunk.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement and motor control. It can become one of the causes of facial twitching. This disorder is usually accompanied by the degeneration of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. It results in the characteristic symptoms of tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowed movement). Parkinson’s disease can also cause non-motor symptoms, such as:
- cognitive changes.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease. And it can lead to muscle spasms in the face. It affects the central nervous system, including the:
- spinal cord;
- optic nerves.
MS occurs due to damage to the protective covering of nerve fibers, known as myelin. It disrupts the normal flow of electrical impulses between the brain and the rest of the body.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited genetic disorder. It affects the brain and causes a progressive decline in all functions. A mutation in the HTT gene on chromosome 4 produces a mutant form of the huntingtin protein. The mutant protein accumulates in the brain, causing damage to nerve cells. So as a consequence, a person may experience face twitching.
Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by:
- repetitive, involuntary movements;
- vocalizations called tics.
Hemifacial spasms associated with Tourette syndrome can be classified as simple or complex. Simple tics involve sudden movements or sounds, such as:
- eye blinking;
- facial grimacing;
- throat clearing.
Complex muscle spasms in the face involve a coordinated sequence of actions or sounds. It can be touching or smelling objects and repeating words or phrases.
Bell’s palsy is a type of facial paralysis that results in temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles on one side of the face. So this disease can be one of the facial twitching causes.
The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is not fully understood. But doctors think that it is probably related to inflammation or swelling of the facial nerve. As it controls the muscles of the face. Symptoms of Bell’s palsy typically develop suddenly and can include:
- weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles on one side of the face;
- drooping of the mouth or eyelid on the affected side;
- difficulty smiling or closing the eye on the affected side;
- altered sense of taste or dryness of the mouth or eye on the affected side;
- pain or discomfort around the jaw or behind the ear on the affected side.
When should I worry about face twitching?
Facial twitching can be a common and harmless occurrence. But in some cases, it may show an underlying neurological condition or health issues. You should seek medical attention if your facial twitching is severe or persistent. Turn to the doctor if your condition is accompanied by any other symptoms, such as:
- weakness or paralysis in the face;
- changes in vision or hearing;
- difficulty speaking or swallowing;
- headaches or migraines;
- unexplained weight loss;
- numbness or tingling in other parts of the body;
- difficulty with balance or coordination.
If your hemifacial spasm interferes with your daily activities or causes you significant discomfort, you should also seek medical advice. Your healthcare providers can perform a physical examination. They order diagnostic tests, such as:
- an MRI;
- electromyography (EMG).
It will determine the underlying cause of symptoms and an appropriate treatment plan.
Lone Star Neurology is your trusted partner in managing muscle spasms in the face and other neurological conditions. Our team of board-certified neurologists and experienced healthcare professionals offers personalized care and cutting-edge treatments to help you achieve optimal neurological health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.
- Can a brain tumor cause facial twitching?
Yes, a brain tumor can cause facial twitching, as it can disrupt the normal function of the nervous system and affect the facial nerves and muscles.
- Can anxiety cause twitching in face?
Yes, anxiety can cause twitching in the face and other parts of the body. Stress and anxiety can trigger the release of certain hormones. As it can affect the nervous system, leading to muscle tension and twitching.
- Is facial twitching a seizure?
Facial twitching is not necessarily a seizure, although seizures can sometimes involve facial twitching as a symptom. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which can result in a wide range of symptoms depending on the area of the brain affected.
- How do you stop a nervous facial tic?
Sometimes a change in daily routine, adequate sleep, and rest are enough. When treating a nervous tic of the eye or face, simple exercises can help. However, we recommend that you see a neurologist.