Hemifacial Spasm

Hemifacial Spasm Symptoms:

The most common symptom of hemifacial spasms is facial pain. Other symptoms include tingling or numbness in your face, lips, tongue, throat, hands and feet. You may experience other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or breathing. Sometimes you feel dizzy or faint after having had a seizure (fits). Some patients have trouble with their balance and some even suffer from seizures again after they recover from them.

Treatment Options:

There are many treatments available for hemifacial spasm. There are several types of drugs that can be used to treat hemifacial spasm. These drugs include anti-seizure medications, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and antipsychotics. The type of drug will depend upon the severity of the condition and how long it’s been going on. Drugs can also be prescribed if there is no cure for the condition.

Anti-Seizure Medications:

These drugs work by stopping the activity of certain brain cells. They can stop epileptic fits and seizures. Anti-seizure medication can cause side effects such as weight gain, constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If these side effects occur then you should not take anti-seizure medications at all.


Anticonvulsants stop your nerve cells from being over-excited or sensitised. They can help to prevent seizures occurring. Anticonvulsant drugs can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and fatigue. Your doctor may want you to have regular blood tests while you are taking these drugs. This is because these drugs can decrease the amount of certain types of blood cells.

This can be a problem for some patients. These drugs may also increase your cholesterol levels and your appetite.


Antidepressants are sometimes used to lessen the emotional impact of having a chronic condition such as hemifacial spasms. They work by increasing the activity of chemicals in the brain. Different types of antidepressants work in different ways. For example, tricyclic antidepressants work by stopping the re-absorption of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals that send messages between nerve cells). This increases their levels and prevents the nerves from becoming over-excited and firing off too easily.

Newer types of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase the levels of a different chemical called serotonin. Antidepressants can take several weeks to have an effect. They can also take several weeks for their effect to wear off once you stop taking them. For this reason, it is usually recommended that you keep taking them for at least one to two weeks after the symptoms have stopped. Antidepressants can have severe side effects such as irregular heartbeat, weight gain or loss, drowsiness, difficulty in passing water and sexual problems. If you experience any of these side effects or any others you consider to be excessive or unusual then tell your doctor immediately.

You might be interested in…

Sources & references used in this article:

Microvascular decompression for hemifacial spasm by FG Barker, PJ Jannetta, DJ Bissonette… – Journal of …, 1995 – thejns.org

Concerning the mechanism of trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm by WJ Gardner – Journal of neurosurgery, 1962 – thejns.org

Hemifacial spasm—a reversible pathophysiologic state by WJ Gardner, GA Sava – Journal of Neurosurgery, 1962 – thejns.org

Hemifacial spasm: clinical findings and treatment by A Wang, J Jankovic – Muscle & Nerve: Official Journal of the …, 1998 – Wiley Online Library

Etiology and definitive microsurgical treatment of hemifacial spasm: operative techniques and results in 47 patients by PJ Jannetta, M Abbasy, JC Maroon, FM Ramos… – Journal of …, 1977 – thejns.org

Hemifacial spasm by PJ Jannetta – The cranial nerves, 1981 – Springer

Hemifacial spasm: a review by RH Wilkins – Surgical neurology, 1991 – Elsevier

Hemifacial spasm and the facial nucleus by JH Ferguson – Annals of Neurology: Official Journal of the …, 1978 – Wiley Online Library

Hemifacial spasm: clinical and electrophysiologic observations by RG Auger – Neurology, 1979 – AAN Enterprises