Hemifacial spasm is a medical condition that affects the muscles of one side of the face and is evidenced by involuntary muscle contractions. These usually begin with twitching of her eye then can progress to the muscles of the same side of the face including the tongue.
As a retired physician I had the opportunity during witness these symptoms first-hand, by observing them in my wife, who, at age 67 is an otherwise excellent health. She began to complain about eye muscle twitching for several years; then developed extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia) about three years ago. She then developed grinding of her teeth, thrusting of her jaw forward and biting of her tongue.
She was evaluated at the University of Colorado Dental School, but no diagnosis was made. Finally an ophthalmologist evaluated her and suggested that she had hemifacial spasm which was confirmed by a neurologist. She has subsequently been treated with the anticonvulsant medication, Dilantin. However, she has continued to have symptoms.
Her symptoms have included tingling out her tongue, forward jaw thrusting, slurring her words and biting her tongue and some involuntary contractions in her hands and arms, and can even develop pain and muscle spasm in her neck and shoulder.
For the past six months she has developed an exercise program which he believes has significantly reduced her symptoms. These are simple set of exercises which she performs three times a day, in the morning, sometime during the day, and at night.
These exercises a rather simple to perform: she opens her mouth, her eyes, and her hands as wide as possible, sticks her tongue out as far as possible, and performs deep abdominal breathing. She holds this pose for about 5 seconds and then relaxes. She performs this exercise 10 times; five times with the tongue protruding, and five times with the tongue relaxed (in its normal position).
Any symptoms she might have seemed resolved in a few hours. She believe this is increased range of motion for opening her jaw. She has stopped biting her tongue and slurring her words. She has less involuntary contractions involving her hands and arms (the yips).
Although she continues to take a Dilantin to control her symptoms, she sincerely believes that these exercises have dramatically improved her symptoms, and decrease their severity.
How these exercises work is explained by the nerve pathways which are stimulated in this manner. What she is doing is encouraging the normal pathways to function and showing her nervous system the correct way to operate and by repeating this process she is helping to defeat the abnormal nerve pathways which have developed.
This clever exercise program I believe is a worthwhile addition to the treatment of hemifacial spasm. It is certainly safer than the three currently prescribed methods of treatment, namely surgery, Botox injections, or medications.
We intend to share this information with the Hemifacial Spasm Association, for the benefit of their members and guests at their website at http://www.hfs-assn.org