Facial twitching usually affects any one half of the face and the condition is medically referred to as hemi-facial spasm. The muscles of the face are controlled by the 7th cranial nerve, traveling from the brainstem, dividing into five branches and supplies the various muscles of the face located around the mouth, lips, eyes and eyebrows.
Epidemiological estimates suggest that about 8 in 100,000 individuals in the United States are affected by this condition. The condition is seen to have a higher prevalence in individuals over the age of 40 years. It affects females more than their male counterparts.
In about 90% cases, the twitching spasm starts from near the eye and progresses gradually down to the face. In remaining 10% cases, the twitching starts from chin and progresses upwards. In general the condition is painless but can be very embarrassing as it interferes with facial expressions and visual disturbances.
What Causes Twitching In The Face?
The misfiring of the seventh cranial nerve leads to twitching of the muscles of the face.
- Injury to the facial nerve (seventh cranial nerve).
- Compression of the nerve by a tumor or a blood vessel. In most cases, the anterior inferior cerebellar artery compresses the nerve when it leaves the brainstem.
- Bell’s palsy
The identification of the cause of facial twitching is done using a MRI scan to rule out tumor or other causes of nerve compression. Subsequently an EMG study for the face along with nerve velocity study is performed to measure nerve and muscle activity.
Home Remedies To Stop Facial Twitching
There are a wide range of options that are available which include use of anti-convulsant medication or muscle relaxants, use of botox injections or surgery. However there are certain natural treatment options that might be beneficial,
- Reduce the intake of caffeine and alternatively opt for green tea or fresh fruit juices.
- Deep breathing exercises can help you relax and de-stress. This is considered to be helpful in preventing an episode of facial twitching.
- Facial exercises may be helpful. Ensure that you get enough good quality sleep each day.
- Magnesium supplements might be beneficial in treating the condition. Include magnesium rich foods like peas, beans, seeds, nuts and green vegetables like broccoli and spinach in your diet.
- Gentle massaging of the face using diluted clove essential oil is very useful.
- The herb Hyoscyamus is very useful in alleviating the symptoms associated with twitching. This herb has powerful antispasmodic properties which helps soothe the nerves and prevent twitching.
- Homeopathic drug zincum metallicum is also useful to deal with facial twitching. This drug needs to be taken twice a day in low potency. Chamomilla, taken in homeopathic potency can also help soothe the nerves and alleviate most of the symptoms.
Botox injections are considered useful as they block electrical impulses of the muscles of the face and thereby prevent them from reacting to misfired stimuli. Surgery is however inevitable if these symptoms of spasms fail to subside.
The procedure is referred to as microvascular decompression, which is focused at reducing nerve compression. This procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon, by making a hole in the head and placing a Teflon sponge between the compressing blood vessel and the facial nerve.