CHEEK TWITCHING AND FACIAL MUSCLE SPAMS

 

Waking up one day
and finding that half your face is attempting to form a revolution can be
unnerving and frustrating, especially if you didn’t know why.

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Facial twitching
usually doesn’t affect the entire face, but instead only half of it. That is
why it is known as a hemifacial spasm. Hemi means “one side” and facial
obviously refers to the face.

Having spasms on
both sides of the face or having both cheeks twitching is a rare condition.

 

HEMIFACIAL SPASM

 

Muscles on your face
are controlled by the 7th cranial nerve which is the facial nerve.
It begins at the brainstem and goes all the way to the skull below the ear.
Here, it separates into 5 branches. The facial nerve is a motor nerve, meaning
it controls the muscles that move the eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, mouth and lips.

A hemifacial spasm
also known as ‘tic convulsif’ comes about when the facial nerve is irritated.
It can also be caused by a tumor. Sometimes however, there is no clear cause.

There are two forms
of this disease; typical and atypical

 

TYPICAL HEMIFACIAL SPASM

This is where the
twitching starts at the lower eyelid. Over time it spreads to the whole eyelid
and down to the muscles around the lip and eventually in the cheekbone. This is
the most common form of the condition.

 

ATYPICAL HEMIFACIAL SPASM

Here, the twitching
starts with the muscles around the lips and then to those on the lower face and
cheekbone and finally up to the eyelid. This is a rare form of the disease seen
on only 2-3% of patients.

 

OCCURRENCE

Both men and women are affected by the
disease. It is more common however in women over 40 and in some Asian
populations.

HEMIFACIAL SPASM SYMPTOMS

1.      Involuntary twitching on one side of your face

Since most people have typical hemifacial
spams, the first symptom is usually when muscle contractions start around your
eyelid. Although this is not always too disruptive, it can cause tearing of the
eyes or closing of the same. Twitching is often more pronounced in situations
of anxiety or simply when you are tired.

2.     
The twitching spreads

As time passes, the twitching may begin to spread to other
parts of your face, although still on the same side. In some cases of
hemifacial spasms, the spasms can spread through every muscle on one side of
the face. This includes the cheek, mouth, jaw, chin and neck.

Spasms may also occur when you are asleep, although you may
not notice them then.

3.     
As the spasms spread they may affect
other organs

Other symptoms may occur over time causing you pain and
discomfort. They include:

–         
Pain
behind the ear

–         
Ringing
in the ears

–         
Frequents
spasms of the entire face

–         
Altered
hearing

WHAT CAUSES FACIAL TWITCHING?

We would
like to think that medicine has all the answers, but sometimes it doesn’t. In
some cases, doctors are unable to discover the root cause of the problem. When
this happens, it is known as an idiopathic spasm. However, here are some of the
known causes of the condition:

1.     
Damage to the facial nerve

When a blood vessel pushes on the facial nerve close to
where it connects to your brain stem, the never sends out signals in what is
known as an ephaptic
transmission. This signal causes the muscles to twitch causing spasms.

2.     
Injury

A head or face injury such as blow can cause spasms. This is
because when the injury occurs, it causes a compression of the facial nerve.

3.     
Tumor

This is a rare case. Untreated tumors can cause nerve damage
as it grows bigger. Because of its location close to the brain, any tumor should
be treated immediately lest it becomes cancerous and spreads.

4.     
Side effects of Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy is where a part of your face is temporary
paralyzed. Sometimes after such an episode, a lingering side effect is spasms
or twitching.

HEMIFACIAL SPASM TREATMENT

HOME REMEDIES

The following home remedies can help reduce symptoms of
hemifacial spams

1.      Rest. Allow your body enough time to
rejuvenate. This also reduces stress and anxiety.

2.      Reduce caffeine consumption.
Caffeine makes your twitching increase so go for fresh fruit juice or green
tea.

3.      Do deep breathing exercises for
relaxation of your muscles. This is only a quick solution.

4.      Massage your face with diluted clove
oil. This should provide relief from excessive twitching

5.      Eating nutrients e.g.:

–         
Vitamin
D, found in milk, eggs and sun.

–         
Magnesium
is also useful in treating the condition. Eat magnesium rich foods such as;
peas, bananas or almonds, green vegetables and seeds.

–         
Antioxidants
found in blueberries

–         
Chamomile
which you can take as tea or supplements.

–         
Hyoscyamus
is an herb that has antispasmodic attributes that can also help reduce
twitching

 

MEDICATION

Your doctor is likely to prescribe a muscle relaxer to
prevent twitching. This is the most common treatment for the condition as it
helps relax your face muscles. The most commonly prescribed medications are: carbamazepine,
baclofen and clonazepam.

BOTOX INJECTION

Doctors uses botulinum toxin type A, also known as Botox to
treat facial spasms, not just to remove wrinkles. The chemicals are injected
into the face close tot where the muscles are twitching. It works by blocking
electrical impulses of the muscles on the face, preventing them from acting on
misfired stimuli.

This is a longer-term solution, working for 3-6 months
before you need to get another one.

SUGERY

This is only recommended by doctors when other treatments
prove unsuccessful. The surgery is aimed at relieving any pressure on the
nerves that may be the result of a blood vessel or a tumor.

The surgery most used is a Microvascular Depression which is
a procedure where the doctor creates an opening in the skull behind the ear and
places a small piece of Teflon padding between the nerves and the blood vessels
blocking it.