Hemifacial spasm, also known as truncular spasm (tricial myasthenia) is a contraction or twitching of facial muscles on one side of your face. Hemifacial spasms are more common in people with diabetes, in whom the muscles may become overactive. The cause is unknown, although medications, surgery, and Botox treatments have been used to control and sometimes stop the spasms. Each therapy has advantages, but each also has limitations.
Surgery: In most cases, hemifacial spasm can be treated without surgery. In more severe cases, however, medications and/or Botox treatment may be required. If you are experiencing multiple spasms affecting more than half your face, it is best to consult your dermatologist. The use of microvascular decompression or other non-surgical methods should be considered, in addition to other treatment alternatives.
Microvascular decompression. In this treatment option, plastic microvascular decompression devices are used to treat your hemifacial spasm. The plastic decompression device is placed on your face and through tiny plastic cannulas and blood vessels, the excess blood vessels on your face are removed. This removes the source of your spasm and relieves the facial nerve compression.
Diet and exercise: The primary approach for dealing with hemifacial spasm is to control diet and strengthen the facial muscles. Simultaneously, you must learn how to relax your facial muscles. For example, when sleeping, it is important to contract the muscles of your face, neck and lips. To relax these same muscles while you sleep, you must learn to use deep breathing. To cure spasms of the facial nerve, you need to also learn how to relax your facial muscles, because relaxing these muscles when you are awake, will prevent spasm at night. The use of massage cream or a facial therapist is recommended for both treatments.
Exercise and diet: When you are in poor condition, you are prone to spasms of the facial nerve, which is why diet can play such an important role in reducing or even eliminating them completely. Consuming vitamin B complex foods like Biotin, calcium and magnesium can improve circulation, which improves the efficiency of your blood vessels. You must also strengthen your heart by following a heart-healthy lifestyle, by avoiding tobacco and alcohol consumption, quitting smoking and exercising regularly. Exercising regularly is especially important because it helps you get rid of excess fat that increases stress on your body, increases blood vessel elasticity and helps prevent spasm.
Use of topical ointments and creams: These can be very effective for treating facial spasm due to hemiparesis, but only if they are formulated to treat the symptoms. If you want to reduce or eliminate hemiparesis completely, you must treat the underlying cause of this condition. This can be done by increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals, or by practicing regular exercise and relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing exercises and yoga.
Microvascular decompression: This is a new treatment which is designed to treat hemifacial spasm due to microvascular compression. This form of treatment involves using a special laser or infra-red light to break up and destroy scar tissue underneath the skin. The laser causes a chemical reaction which burns away the damaged tissues, preventing new scar tissue from forming. In this method, the risk of facial nerve compression and increased blood vessel expansion are both reduced.
Facial spasm can be very distressing, and in extreme cases it can cause permanent nerve and blood vessel damage. Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for hemifacial spasm – it will always occur in some people. However, with the correct treatments, symptoms can be managed effectively. The best way to do this is through a combination of medications, relaxation techniques, and managing symptoms and stress. As long as the underlying causes of spasms are dealt with, and as long as treatment is given early on, most patients can enjoy long, productive lives free from facial spasms.