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Botox for Hemifacial Spasm Treatment

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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) defines a hemifacial spasm as a neurological disorder where the patient has involuntary muscular contractions on one side of the face.

Middle-aged women and elderly women are diagnosed with hemifacial spasm more often than men. The Mayfield Clinic states that 92 percent of patients have symptoms starting near their eye (eyelid twitching), then a progression down the face (resulting in a pulling of the mouth to one side). The other eight percent of patients have reverse symptoms thats begin near the chin and spreads up the face toward the eyes.

Hemifacial spasm is caused by nerve damage, a tumor, or Bell's palsy, though the NINDS points out that there may be no apparent cause. The most common cause is damage to the facial nerve where a blood vessel presses against the nerve at the nerve's exit from the brain stem. Decompressing the nerve through surgery is the main treatment option and 85 percent of patients can be cured.

Some patients, however, opt against surgical intervention with hemifacial spasm. Another treatment option is Botox. Botox uses a small quantity of the botulinum toxin, and is often a cosmetic treatment for wrinkles; however, Botox has been shown to treat the involuntary contractions from hemifacial spasm. When the botulinum toxin is injected, it interferes in acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. This reduces the number of contractions in the face, thus alleviating symptoms. The University of Michigan states that the injection is not near the eye (no puncturing of the eye) and a small and safe quantity is administered.

Botox treatment for hemifacial spasm does carry side effects. The most common side effect is eye dryness, with upper eyelid drooping occurs in six percent of patients, double vision in three percent, and lower eyelid sagging rarely occurs. The University of Michigan notes that these side effects last two to six weeks, compared to the three month duration of benefits. Patients who choose Botox as a treatment for hemifacial spasm should note that they will need to follow up with their doctor for additional injections, as the results are not permanent.
Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch received her bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in May 2009. She is the Hartford Women's Health Examiner and she writes about abuse on Suite 101.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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